Today, Warner Home Video announced the titles that will be released in May through the studio's video on demand service, Warner Archives. Among these titles is the 1963 Steve McQueen film Soldier in the Rain, costarring Jackie Gleason, and most excitingly, the 1974 buddy comedy Freebie and the Bean.
Chances are if you aren't already shouting at the top of your lungs in excitement, you have no idea what Freebie and the Bean is. And yet, in retrospect it seems like the missing - and absolutely essential - link between the gritty potboilers of the 1970s, such as The French Connection, and the glib, profane thrillers of the '80s and '90s, in particular the early work of Shane Black. At the urging of a few well-informed buddies I went to see the film late last year at a revival theater in Los Angeles, not the least of which because it stars Alan Arkin as a Hispanic detective (i.e., The Bean), and James Caan as his determined-to-be-corrupted partner (Hence "Freebie"). And while it certainly doesn't have the palpable drama of Friedkin's film, or even the slick polish of the Lethal Weapon films (or even The Last Boy Scout, a movie with which it shares an unhealthy number of similarities), it's an amazing, explosive, almost self-destructive exercise in action, comedy, racism, and property damage, not necessarily in that order.