Back in 1974, this type of frenetic crud was considered to be popular entertainment. Thirty-five years later, the stupidity of this endeavor is almost unbearable.
James Caan and Alan Arkin are a pair of rules-bending San Francisco cops who never think twice about smacking around suspects or turning the city’s streets into a demolition derby. This comedy’s nitwit plot has them trying to keep a high-profile racketeer from being rubbed out, but the chaos that the duo brings along the way (false arrests, shaking down clothing retailers, driving a car into a third floor apartment) results in more municipal damage than good policing.
Caan, doing a modified version of his “Godfather” hot-head character Sonny Corleone, is ill-paired with Arkin, whose low-boiling manic shtick doesn’t fit the role of a Mexican-American policeman. Even less convincing is Valerie Harper as Arkin’s wife – her high school Spanish and greasepaint make-up offers the least convincing depiction of a Latina this side of Natalie Wood lip-syncing Marni Nixon. Loretta Swit gets third billing for a five-minute non-performance, but the real stars are the small army of stunt men who plow their cars and motorcycles through San Francisco’s twisting streets.
Richard Rush directed “Freebie and the Bean.” Needless to say, it was not among his finest moments.