After their involvement in a giant drug bust was fictionalized in the blockbuster crime thriller The French Connection (1971), real-life New York City cops Eddie Egan and Sonny Grosso were fictionalized again in two separate 1973 releases. Robert Duvall plays an Egan-inspired character in Badge 373, and Roy Scheider mimics Grosso in The Seven-Ups. Neither is a great movie, but The Seven-Ups is exciting and stylish; by comparison, Badge 373 is turgid and old-fashioned, a bland whodunit filled with uninteresting subplots and dreary music. At the beginning of the picture, swaggering Irish cop Eddie Ryan (Duvall) leads a raid that results in the death of a Puerto Rican. He’s suspended from the force, and pilloried by the press and the Puerto Rican community as a racist. When his partner is murdered, Ryan investigates even though he doesn’t have a badge, and ends up in the crosshairs of the Puerto Rican revolutionary group connected to the murder. The setup is unnecessarily convoluted, and Duvall’s characterization has none of the edgy charisma that made Gene Hackman’s French Connection take on Egan so compelling. Instead, Duvall portrays Ryan as a hateful, shoot-first-ask-questions-later thug. A few scenes exploring Puerto Rican identity are interesting, like those featuring an immigrant crime boss (Henry Darrow), and the setpiece of Ryan commandeering a city bus is colorful, but the movie gets lost in one trite cop-movie trope after another. Duvall’s also uncharacteristically phony, except in one or two emotional moments, and he’s pretty much the whole show—but the real Eddie Egan offers a bit of helpful authenticity with his salty performance as Ryan’s long-suffering supervisor.
Badge 373: FUNKY