JOHN FLYNN’S THE OUTFIT — A REVIEW BY NICK CLEMENT

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Gritty 70’s action doesn’t get much more crisp and clean than John Flynn’s The Outfit, which was adapted from the Richard Stark/Donald Westlake novel and released in 1973, and starred Robert Duvall, Joe Don Baker, Karen Black, and Robert Ryan as the chief baddie. Concerning a low level criminal (Duvall) who upon release from prison discovers that his brother has been murdered after a bank heist gone awry, the script concocted by director Flynn takes on the form of a hybrid revenge movie, with Duvall teaming up with Baker for some serious bouts of ass-kicking, and the two of them slowly realizing that they may be in over the heads. Shot with rough and tumble smarts by cameraman Bruce Surtees and featuring a peppy musical score by Jerry Fielding, this is a ripping actioner made with style and attitude in all the key places, mixing black comedy (those final moments…!), vicious action, and constantly shifting plotting into a fantastic stew of noir-ish fun. Flynn was apparently a huge fan of Westlake’s “Parker” novels, and despite some chatter to the contrary, never intended The Outfit as a 1940’s period piece they way some had claimed. The studio initially wanted a lighter ending, but Flynn insisted on staying true to the violent and pulpy material. The Outfit served as the screen debut for actress Joanna Cassidy.

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