Across 110th Street is a 1972 American crime-drama film, starring Anthony Quinn, Yaphet Kotto, and Tony Franciosa, and directed by Barry Shear. Commonly associated with the blaxploitation genre at the time, it has received considerable critical praise from writer Greil Marcus and others for being a film that surpassed the limitations of that genre.
This film is set in Harlem
, of which 110th Street is an informal boundary line.
Kotto plays a by-the-book black police lieutenant who has to work with a crude, racist and streetwise Italian-American captain, played by Quinn. They are after three black robbers who slaughtered five men—three Italians and two Blacks—in a raid on a Mob owned Harlem policy bank that netted $300,000. The getaway driver is played by Antonio Fargas. Franciosa plays a Mafia lieutenant who, with his henchmen, goes after the hoods. Paul Benjamin plays the troubled but good-hearted Jim Harris, which is the last of the surviving hoods; he makes his choice in the emotional climax.
In one of many violent scenes, Franciosa finds Fargas' character and brutalizes him in a Harlem whorehouse.
The mixture of natural, uncontrived, down-to-the-bone dialogue and 1970s dress and behavior accounts for the film's enduring appeal. The inclusion of violence is viewed as not gratuitous, but rather an integral part of what happens, and what has to happen, given the circumstances. The movie was filmed on location in Harlem, making the film an interesting comparison of the neighborhood of that time, and now, with its recent urban revival. Technically, the film is also notable as being the first feature film to use a self-blimped camera (the Arriflex 35BL) for sync sound; the much-reduced size of the camera allowed the production to not only use more hand-held shots and smaller locations than normal, but also record usable sound at the same time - an endeavor not previously possible under those circumstances.
The film's critically-praised title song, by Bobby Womack, was a #19 hit on the Billboard Top Black Singles chart in 1973, and was later featured in Quentin Tarantino's 1997 blaxploitation homage Jackie Brown. It is also heard in Ridley Scott's 2007 American Gangster, and as a background song for the video game True Crime: New York City.
- "Across 110th Street" (performed by Bobby Womack and Peace) (US #56, R&B #19)
- "Harlem Clavinette" (performed by J.J.Johnson and his Orchestra)
- "If You Don't Want My Love" (performed by Bobby Womack and Peace)
- "Hang On In There" (performed by J.J.Johnson and his Orchestra)
- "Quicksand" (performed by Bobby Womack and Peace)
- "Harlem Love Theme" (performed by J.J.Johnson and his Orchestra)
- "Across 110th Street (instrumental)" (performed by J.J.Johnson and his Orchestra)
- "Do It Right" (performed by Bobby Womack and Peace)
- "Hang On In There" (performed by Bobby Womack and Peace)
- "If You Don't Want My Love" (performed J.J.Johnson and his Orchestra)
- "Across 110th Street - Part II" (performed by Bobby Womack and Peace)