A Piece of the Action

 (1,139)6.52 h 15 min1977PG
A pair of con men are obliged to help a social worker set some kids onthe right track.
Sidney Poitier
Sidney PoitierJa'net DuBoisHope Clarke
English [CC]
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Supporting actors
Bill CosbyJason EversJames Earl JonesDenise NicholasTracy Reed
Melville Tucker
Warner Bros.
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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4.8 out of 5 stars

1139 global ratings

  1. 86% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 9% of reviews have 4 stars
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  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
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LizzyReviewed in the United States on December 8, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
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I watched this film totally for Sidney Poitier and found the story to be a lot of fun. Interestingly, while the plot if completely different, there is one element in this film that is similar to TO SIR, WITH LOVE. Even more so, there's a scene in this film similar to a scene in TO SIR, WITH LOVE II. Of course, the latter "Sir" film was made MANY years after this one, so if one film was to be inspired by another, a scene in TSWL2 had to be inspired by this one.

This is a fun story about two con men (with heart) being set on the right path while helping other. It has a satisfying, feel-good ending. Yes, a bit implausible in places, it didn't matter. I just wanted to be entertained and this did the trick.
cookieman108Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2005
4.0 out of 5 stars
"You don't get something for nothing!"
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At a time when the `blaxploitation' genre was prevalent in the cinema, a handful of individuals tried to provide an intelligent, positive alternative, one being Academy Award winner Sidney Poitier (Lilies of the Field, To Sir, with Love, In the Heat of the Night), with a trio of films he not only directed, but also co-starred in with Bill Cosby, including Uptown Saturday Night (1974), Let's Do It Again (1975), and this feature, titled A Piece of the Action (1977), which would mark Poitier's last role in front of the camera for just over ten years, as he focused his efforts towards directing. Also appearing is James Earl Jones (Field of Dreams, The Hunt for Red October), Denise Nicholas (Blacula, Let's Do It Again), Hope Clarke (Basquiat), Tracy Reed (Car Wash, Running Scared), and Titos Vandis (The Exorcist, Oh, God!), along with Ja'net DuBois ("Good Times", I'm Gonna Git You Sucka), Frances Foster (Crooklyn), Eric Laneuville (A Force of One), Ernest `Rog' Thomas ("What's Happening!!"), and Sheryl Lee Ralph (The Mighty Quinn, Skin Deep), in her first film role.

As the film begins we meet two men, Dave Anderson (Cosby), a burglar who specializes in safecracking, and Manny Durrell (Poitier), a conman who's just fleeced a local criminal boss, Mr. Bruno (Vandis) out of a whole lot of dough. The activities of both men draw the attention of the police, including that of soon to be retired detective Joshua Burke (Jones), but neither man is fingered for their respective crimes...that is until Burke blackmails David and Manny into working for a local community improvement center. The two men, not knowing their blackmailer, or each other, for that matter, become reluctant philanthropists, stuck having to train and find jobs for 30 inner city juvenile delinquents who seemingly have little desire or motivation to make their lives better, and are only participating in the program because of a court order (one thing they do have a lot of is attitude). As the men begin their `penance' work, they also try to figure out who is behind their predicament, as if they can discern the identity of their `benefactor', they may also find a way out, but matters become difficult as Dave sort of falls for the woman who heads the community center, Ms. Lila French (Nicholas), while Mr. Bruno and his associates learn the identity of the person responsible for conning them i.e. Manny (it's not so much about the money, but an issue of disrespect). Interestingly enough, David and Manny's work with the troubled youths begins to show positive results, but they may not be around long enough to enjoy the successes as the mobsters seek their revenge.

While this isn't my favorite Poitier/Cosby pairing, it's still a really well done movie, and definitely worth checking out. Actually, I believe all three films The Cos and Poitier did were originally intended more for African American audiences, to show they didn't have to settle for the stereotypical black caricatures streaming out of Hollywood at the time, but the movies had such appeal that most all audiences appreciated them, and, subsequently, they did very well. The main difference here compared to their two, previous outings is this one has less humor and slapsticky comedy. It's almost like there's two movies here, one dealing with Poitier and Cosby's character trying to get out of their predicament, and then a second featuring Poitier sort of reprising his role from his 1967 film To Sir, with Love, which featured him as a teacher trying to infuse a sense of self worth into a bunch of snotty English students (there are a number of touching, borderline sappy sequences, as the kids come to terms with their reality, and realize they have to make their own opportunities). Each plot is given equal time, finally converging into one story, resulting in a running time of just over two hours. Another big difference is here Poitier and Cosby start out as criminals, eventually seeing the error of their ways, while in the previous films their characters were more along the lines of working class fellows who get humorously tangled up with criminal elements. The chemistry between Poitier and Cosby is most definitely present as it was in the previous films, with Poitier as sort of the straight man to Cosby's comical character, and a lot of credit goes to a strong, professional supporting cast headed by James Earl Jones, as the no nonsense retired detective using the men to help those less fortunate for his own reasons. It did seem a little odd how quickly the kids caught on and turned things around for themselves, but then Poitier's character did employ some unique techniques. Another aspect that helped a lot was the inclusion of a number of fine looking women, including Denise Nicholas, Tracy Reed, and Hope Clarke, who are all excellent performers that held their own well against Cosby, Poitier, and Jones. There was sort of an odd subplot featuring Manny, his girlfriend Nikki, played by Reed (the two were living together), and an unexpected visit from her disapproving parents (and an alcoholic aunt played by DuBois), I wasn't sure where this aspect was going, but I think it was mainly meant to show Manny's affections for Nikki, as later she's kidnapped by the goons, and used as leverage against Poitier's character. The story moves along well, but given all that's going on in the film, some might get a little lost if they're not paying attention. Some aspects of the story could have been simplified, or even removed, but given the movie was an all around good time, I didn't mind it running longer than it needed too...I think my favorites scenes involved Bill Cosby's character dancing, once in a disco, and again at the very end during the credits. I have to say, some of those moves, which I don't think I've ever seen another human being perform, were outta sight. Oh, before I forget, the movie also features an excellent, original musical score by the legendary rhythm and blues artist Curtis Mayfield.

The picture on this DVD, presented in widescreen (1.85:1) anamorphic, looks very good, and the Dolby Digital mono audio comes through cleanly. There are some extras included, the main one being a featurette titled Dynamite Duo: A Retrospective (7:30), which includes interviews with actors James Earl Jones, Denise Nicholas, Jimmie Walker, John Amos, Julius Harris, screenwriter Richard Wesley, New York Press critic Armond White, and USC professor and author Todd Boyd. Also included is a trailer for this film, along with ones for the films Uptown Saturday Night (1974) and Let's Do It Again (1975).


By the way, horror film fans might be interested to know Angus Scrimm, the Tall Man from the Phantasm movies, makes an appearance in the latter half of this film, as a monk, of all things.
9 people found this helpful
Rick M.Reviewed in the United States on July 10, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Great Classic Movie! My DVD would freeze!!
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I ordered this to complete my 3 movie collection. I was disappointed when my copy froze near the end of the Willy interview (in my Blu-ray player). After that scene, I couldn't play my disc beyond that point. I couldn't even begin playing the movie in my DVD player. I thought my disc would be coming from Amazon via Ashanti, but it appears it came from, Gamecoma. The disc was sealed and appeared to be in new condition. If anyone sees this, please help me find a good, playable copy. Regarding the movie itself, it's a classic. The final in a 3 movie collection with Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. My understanding is, Bill Cosby, didn't want to make anymore of these type of gangster movies, but this one has some good lessons to teach. Great Movie!! Now please tell me where to find a good copy?
Mz. Fe-feReviewed in the United States on December 16, 2013
5.0 out of 5 stars
Takes me back to a simplier time when even Con's could be respected. LOL!...
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Love this Movie! Its an Old School Classic! Takes me back to growing up as a kid in the 70's! So much nostaglia for me. They don't make "em like this any more. Simply put...Gives me a good feelin of "Da Good Ole Day's" in Da hood!' Lol! Great flick!

I just gotta says some words in honor of my fondest 70's memories overall...The 70's were great clotheswise! You didn't even have to coordinate! Anything you wore, looked good. Orange & Brown, Plaids & Stripes, Bell Bottoms, Platforms, Mini skirts w/pleats, Gaucho's, & Last but not least... lets not forget Airplane collar shirts undone to the navel for guys(some girls too, smh, lol!) & blouses tied below the bust & right above the belly. Fashion Ruled the 70's! & for us kids,Hop Scotch, Engine, engine number 9!.., roller skating, Hide & Seek, catch a girl-kiss a girl(I always got caught on purpose shhh...hee-hee-hee) & Double & Dutch/Irish. YOU FO REAL "OLD SCHOOL' IF YA KNOW BOUT SOME IRISH! ROFL! Everything was easy... summer's were the best, I remember parents or aunts & uncles taking us to the drive in & telling us to go play on the swings up under the Big screen. ( Hmmm...I wondered why the sent us off, rofl! Uh-yeah we all know what time it was,... Grown folks needed to talk. YEAH RIGHT, Lol!) Don't cha wish ya could go back! Movies were great! Bruce Lee, Shaft, Superfly, Christie Love! Cartoons were all the rage, wanted to marry "Speed Racer" when I was 6. I think it was his eyes, lol! & after school specials, loved them. Ok gon stop now or else gonna click my heels 3 times & go back. Lol! In other words(Clearing my throat & sounding mature & serious)...This is a great movie. Yes its worth watching it'll take you back. ; )
3 people found this helpful
Patricia L. HucksReviewed in the United States on May 21, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Awesome purchase!
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I purchased this movie as a combination of another classic hit and only one side would play. This time, I was rewarded with an exceptional copy. I highly recommend others to purchase from this seller. I am enjoying a classic because of them. Patricia Hucks
FabulousReviewed in the United States on November 1, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Piece of the Action
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I wanted to go back down memory lane and chose this movie to do so... I long for the good old days.
CaramelwomanReviewed in the United States on February 3, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
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I love Bill & Sidney and the performance they give in all of the movies they have made together. I have 3 daughters and when they were young they did not know the meaning of how we as Black people struggled to become known as somebody. Every time I had a chance to tell them about any Black Actors I made sure they remembered the actors. Bill Cosby was a Stand-Up Comedian and Sidney Poitier was doing his thing with the movies. I also loved the other actors in the movie.
Joy W.Reviewed in the United States on February 15, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of my favorite
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I really enjoy classic movies.
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