by Dan Delgado
If there was a March Madness of New York sleaze movies, Night of the Juggler would be a one seed. There is something about the late 70’s / early 80’s where the big apple seemed like the worst city in the world. Crime and grime are everywhere and a number of movies from that time period took advantage of this. Night of the Juggler might the movie taking most advantage.
The plot is about an ex-cop turned truck driver (James Brolin in full beard mode) whose daughter is kidnapped in a case of mistaken identity. The kidnapper is a wacko (Cliff Gorman) who thinks he’s kidnapped the daughter of a millionaire developer who he blames for ruining his beloved Bronx neighborhood by allowing all these damn ethnic types to move in.
What makes Night of the Juggler so impressive is how relentless it is. The movie never stops throwing things at Brolin as he tracks the kidnapper down. It’s a bit like one of the nightclubs that would be described by Stefan on Saturday Night Live. This movie has everything: unusually helpful cabbies, car chases, crazy cops unloading shotguns in the middle of traffic, Clemenza from the Godfather, Puerto Rican street gangs and a brawl at a peep show. Basically everything you’ve ever wanted in a movie.
The name is misleading and really dumb. There’s no juggler in this movie. Our crazed kidnapper makes mention of the rich guys ruining the Bronx as guys who juggle the books and how he’d be doing. He’s be the juggler. Yeah, okay.
Bottom line, they don’t make ’em like this anymore so enjoy it. The movie is crazy mess and I wish there was more like it. New York City looks nothing like it did here back when it was arguably at its worst. The city is a much safer and nicer place to be. While that’s great for New Yorkers and tourists, it’s lousy for movies.
Watch Night of the Juggler: