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Speedtrap
(1977)
 

Director: Earl Bellamy     
Cast:
Joe Don Baker, Tyne Daly, Richard Jaeckel, Robert Loggia


Aside from the presence of B-movie fav Baker, this excuse for endless car chases doesn't have much merit. Even Baker is going through the motions, instead of having some fun like he's done with similar roles.

Baker plays Pete Nobeck, a private eye who takes assignments from insurance companies. In an unnamed southwest city (Phoenix?), a single elusive thief has been responsible for a rash of car thefts, setting up the required opening chase scene with dumb cops chasing the elusive thief but ending up driving off a bridge. Of course, the cop car blows up seconds after the driving policeman escapes from the wreckage. Did you know that cars almost never blow up in accidents? I thought you might find that interesting, and remembering that fact took my mind off this boring movie for several seconds.

The insurance companies are naturally alarmed about all the thefts (and, no doubt, all the destroyed police cars), so they hire Pete Nobeck to investigate things. This doesn't sit well with shifty police captain Hogan, but it's great for Nobeck's old policewoman friend "Nifty" (Daly), who knew each other at karate and disco in San Francisco. Hmmm, a distrusting police captain and an old friend....I wonder if one of them could possibly be - yep. And naturally, you know already which one it is.

So now that we know who it is, we have about an hour to go before the "surprise revelation". This won't be so bad if there's a reasonable level of entertainment before that time. Let's see...first there are several boring car chases that either end in the thief getting away, or the thief turning out to be some spoiled punk joyriding. Nobeck then meets a psychic who might get a clue of the thief's identity through visions. But she can do that "only when completely relaxed." Well, you've got a hunka hunka blubbery love with Joe Don Baker, baby! Fortunately, we only see the morning after his "relaxation techniques".

Nobeck puts on his paisley shirts and continues his investigation, learning that the thief has a special remote control unit that can remotely start up cars and unlock the doors. Yeah, right. The thief uses this box to steal a car from the mob, which happens to have a stash of drugs inside. Consequently, the mob invites themselves into the investigation and gives "friendly advice" to Nobeck to turn the thief over to them when he catches him. This adds more chases and shootings to the plot, though not any excitement.

There is one somewhat amusing bit during a l-o-n-g chase when Nobeck, in hot pursuit of the thief, keeps "borrowing" people's cars to keep up the pursuit. Though this is worth a few chuckles, the chase itself is just as boring as the others. Finally Nobeck catches the thief (guess who?), and there are the required "Why?" and "Because....". Surprisingly, there is another act after this, leading to the big climax that doesn't involve a car chase. It's one of the better parts of the movie, but that's faint praise. Besides, most viewers will have stepped on the gas to speed away from this speedtrap by then.

Check for availability on Amazon (VHS)

Also: Run, Angel, Run, The Road Hustlers, Joy Ride To Nowhere

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