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USA 1974
Directed by
John Flynn
103 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Outfit, The (1974)

Although not in the same league as John Boorman’s genre classic Point Blank (1967) which one can surmise, both director John Flynn and lead actor Robert Duvall had seen, The Outfit is a neat little revenge thriller that as the casting of actors Robert Ryan, Elisha Cook Jr., Marie Windsor and Jane Greer playfully acknowledges, owes much to the pulp fiction B movies of the 1940s and early ‘50s.

Duvall plays Earl Macklin who is released from prison to find that his brother has been murdered by The Outfit as a result of a heist they and partner-in-crime Cody (Joe Don Baker) had committed on a bank that The Outfit used to legitimize their operations. He and Cody decide to hit The Outfit before The Outfit, headed up by ruthless boss Mailer (Ryan), hits them.

Made with the winning economy that marked smaller budget American films in the ‘70s (it was photographed by Bruce Surtees who lensed Dirty Harry, 1971, amongst a handful of other Eastwood films of the time) the film moves at cracking pace, making, as was the case with Point Blank, the revenge-for-revenge’s-sake motivation the driving force behind the action. The women are largely an assortment of molls and bimbos with Karen Black's Bette constituting a relatively unusual addition to the Earl-Cody dynamic although her treatment is reminiscent of Mae Clark’s at the hands of James Cagney in The Public Enemy (1931)

The film loses some of its sharpness in the latter stages with Earl and Cody besting The Outfit’s goons too easily, particularly in the final showdown in Mailer’s heavily guarded mansion which in the annals of such things is a bit of a let-down. Still, with well-drawn characters, a strong script and lots of genre style, The Outfit is a worthy addition to the modern B grade crime movie catalogue.




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