Cast & Crew
Richard A. Colla
On a cold November day in Boston, Det. Eileen McHenry begins a new assignment at the 87th precinct, working undercover to foil a rapist who has been assaulting women in the park. The normally chaotic 87th is even more frenetic while the station house is being repainted by two wise-cracking municipal painters. As the nightshift personnel start to leave, Det. Meyer Meyer receives what he thinks is a crank phone call from a man stating that he wants $5,000 or he will kill Parks Commissioner Cooper. When Det. Bert Kling gets a similar call asking that the money be placed in a lunch pail behind a grave in a nearby cemetery, they begin to take the call seriously. Meanwhile, Det. Steve Carella is working undercover posing as a hobo to apprehend an arsonist who has been setting local vagrants on fire. While pretending to be in a drunken stupor, Carella is attacked by two assailants, teenagers Jimmy and Baby, who set his coat on fire. Although he tries to catch the arsonists, they flee as Carella frantically disentangles himself from the burning coat. The next morning, while Carella, who has burned his hands, is visited in the hospital by his loving, deaf-mute wife Teddy, Kling and Det. Arthur Brown stake out the cemetery where the lunch pail has been placed. When a man picks up the pail then dashes off, Kling and Brown pursue him on foot, then onto a subway car, where they observe him from a distance. When the man opens the lunch pail and finds only wooden blocks, Kling and Brown follow him as he leaves the train and enters a neighborhood pool hall. Hours later, as Cooper leaves St. Pius church, he is killed by a sniper's bullet. After hearing of the murder, Police Commissioner Nelson angrily calls the world-weary Lt. Byrnes, who heads the 87th, and orders him to keep on the investigation, even though Byrnes argues that St. Pius is in another precinct. A short time later, a small boy delivers to the desk sergeant an extortion note comprised of pasted together newspaper letters demanding that $50,000 be placed near a bench in the Boston Commons or Deputy Mayor Scanlon will be killed. The innocent boy reveals that the man who gave him the letter wears a hearing aid, prompting the detectives to dub him "The Deaf Man." After police learn that the pickup man at the cemetery is Anthony La Bresca, they place a wiretap on his phone, after which Brown overhears Tony's call from a man they identify as Pete Schroeder, who talks about their "caper" and arranges to meet Tony at Sam's. Although Meyer goes undercover to follow the men, he loses them, much to the consternation of Byrnes. The next day, in Boston Commons, some of the detectives on surveillance include Meyer and Carella, dressed as nuns, and McHenry and Kling, who have started a flirtation, posing as a couple making love in a sleeping bag. When a young man briskly walks to the lunch pail and picks it up, the detectives jump into action, but McHenry and Kling cannot unzip their sleeping bag, another detective accidentally shoots himself in the foot and the man nearly gets away. At the station, questioning of the recalcitrant witness eventually reveals that he, too, has merely done the Deaf Man's bidding and is not directly connected to the crime. After releasing the man, the detectives speculate that the Deaf Man, whom the witness revealed is bald, knew that the lunch box would again be empty and his real purpose is to kill Scanlon. Later, at a porn shop, Tony meets Pete to discuss an upcoming robbery in which they plan to cut out their other partner, "Dom." Unknown to them, Carella and Brown are also at the porn shop and have been listening to their plans. The detectives later apprehend Dom and convince him to reveal the time and place of the robbery in exchange for dropping other charges against him. That afternoon, Buck, a mechanic in the police garage, secretly places a bomb in the engine of the limousine that will be used by the police that night to drive Scanlon. At 9:45 p.m., the limousine explodes and crashes, killing Scanlon, his wife and his police guards. Some time later, Buck and his cohort Ahmad visit the home of the Deaf Man where he tells them about his plan to extort money from millionaire Henry Jefferson, a family man who will eagerly pay them $500,000 to protect his wife and two daughters. That night, Buck and Ahmad accompany the Deaf Man to an area near the mayor's house where they use city planning maps to determine where the electrical lines are located. They then cause a small explosion that causes a local power outage. In a van painted to resemble an electric company van, the trio drive to the mayor's residence where Buck, dressed in a policeman's uniform, tells the policemen on duty that the two other men are there to check on the wiring. Once inside, the Deaf Man hides a bomb, then leaves, along with Buck and Ahmad. After abandoning the van and moving into another car, the Deaf Man calls Jefferson to relate his demands, stating that he is the person who killed Scanlon. Jefferson initially refuses to consider it, but then looks at his family and decides to pay. The Deaf Man and Buck then stop off at the liquor store, where they order a celebratory case of champagne. Just then, Tony and Pete draw their guns to rob the liquor store, but when they see Buck, who is still in a policeman's uniform, they scream "police." Thinking that Tony and Pete are police, Buck also yells "police," just as Carella and Kling come out of their hiding places and yell the same thing. As the respective groups almost immediately start to fire their weapons, Buck, Tony and Pete are killed and the Deaf Man is wounded. A confused Kling goes to Buck, who dies immediately after saying "It's too late--a bomb." As Carella chases the Deaf Man through the streets toward the waterfront, the two young arsonists see the Deaf Man struggling to run and assume that he is a hobo. Despite Carella's screaming at them to stop, the boys ignite the Deaf Man, who jumps into the bay and does not resurface. After the abandoned van is searched, police discover maps of the mayor's residence and are able to find the bomb before it explodes. Later, as Carella, Kling, Meyer and others discuss the night's events, Meyer insists that they really are heroes and that it was not pure coincidence that led them to prevent the mayor's death, apprehend the arsonists and stop an extortion ring. As the police walk away from the waterfront, a hearing aid bobs to the surface and a hand reaches up to grab it.
Richard A. Colla
H. Benny Markowitz
Brian Doyle Murphy
J. S. Johnson
Harry Eldon Miller
Charlie Martin Smith
Vincent Van Lynn
Patti Tee Byrne
Edward S. Feldman
R. Dudley Holmes
Robert L. Kimble
Robert I. Knudson
Charles H. Maguire
Adapted to the screen by Evan Hunter from one of his enduringly popular "Precinct 87" novels written under the pseudonym "Ed McBain," Fuzz opens on a typically chaotic day at the Beantown station house. Det. Meyer Meyer (Jack Weston) takes the first of several phone calls threatening the assassination of the city parks commissioner if a $5000 ransom isn't met. While Lt. Byrnes (Dan Frazer) is hopeful that the calls are merely the work of a crank, he sends Detectives Bert Kling (Tom Skerritt) and Arthur Brown (James McEachin) out to make a bogus drop and to tail the bagman.
When this response is met with the parks commissioner's shocking death by sniper fire, the cops of the 87th are met with escalating demands on the lives of other local officials. Their resources are put to the test as they try to uncover the ultimate agenda of the scheme's mastermind (Yul Brynner), a stylish power broker referred to only as El Sordo, or the Deaf Man.
Hunter's cops have other balls to keep in the air, as well. Det. Steve Carella (Reynolds) nearly pays with his life as he goes undercover to flush out a pair of sociopathic teenagers who have been torching winos for kicks. The attractive Det. Eileen McHenry (Raquel Welch), recently transferred to act as bait for a rapist plaguing the precinct, has her own problems between the patronizing attitudes of her new colleagues and the persistent attentions of Kling.
Between the mordant tone, the presence of Skerritt, and the eccentric supporting performances, Fuzz often invokes Robert Altman's M*A*S*H (1970) in its dark and irreverent take on a distinctly American profession. Unfortunately, the film doesn't display Altman's ability to skewer the sacrosanct; Fuzz has to cover an awful lot of ground in 92 minutes of screen time, and the results are highly uneven.
Some nice bits of business, like the surprisingly gentle rendering of Carella's loving relationship with his deaf-mute wife (Neile Adams), could have merited more development. Still, longtime TV director Richard A. Colla obviously enjoyed working with a cast laden with so many gifted character actors such as Steve Ihnat, Charles Martin Smith, Brian Doyle-Murray, Peter Bonerz, Bert Remsen and Royce D. Applegate, and gives each of them the opportunity to shine in their scenes.
While the tagline for Fuzz proclaimed "Burt Reynolds + Raquel Welch = Dynamite," it understated how potentially explosive it was to have the performers together on the same set. Reynolds recounted in his autobiography My Life about the frostiness of their professional relationship after he made an uncouth remark to her during the filming of 100 Rifles (1969). "She had every right to never speak to me again," the actor recalled; in point of fact, Welch only signed on for Fuzz under the proviso that they wouldn't have to work together. The two only share the screen four times in the course of the movie, and never exchange any lines.
Their personal differences would ultimately be resolved years later when Welch sued the producers of Cannery Row (1982) over her dismissal from the project, and Reynolds testified on her behalf as to her professionalism. Welch ultimately obtained a multimillion-dollar verdict. In the '90s, the two had a pleasant experience when she made a guest appearance on Reynolds' sitcom Evening Shade. "After that week, I realized I could've fallen in love with her," Reynolds recalled. "I wanted to tell her what a damn shame it was that we wasted so much time."
Producer: Jack Farren, Edward S. Feldman, Charles H. Maguire, Martin Ransohoff
Director: Richard A. Colla
Screenplay: Evan Hunter
Cinematography: Jacques R. Marquette
Film Editing: Robert L. Kimble
Art Direction: Hilyard Brown
Music: Dave Grusin
Cast: Burt Reynolds (Steve Carella), Jack Weston (Detective Meyer Meyer), Tom Skerritt (Bert Kling), Raquel Welch (Eileen McHenry), James McEachin (Detective Arthur Brown), Steve Ihnat (Detective Andy Parker).
by Jay Steinberg
A written statement in the film's end credits thanks the city of Boston, MA, where the film was partially shot, for their cooperation during production. The opening and closing cast credits differ in order, with the end credits dividing the cast into three categories, "The Fuzz," "The Bad Guys" and "The Other Players." In the opening credits, Yul Brynner is the fourth listed actor and the only one identified with a character name, "The Deaf Man." Raquel Welch's opening credit, which appears after several additional cast names, reads "and Raquel Welch." As the end credits roll, "I'll Be Seeing You," sung by Dinah Shore is heard on the soundtrack. At the time of the film's release, Shore and Burt Reynolds had a well-known romantic relationship.
According to a November 27, 1968 Daily Variety news item, Ed McBain's novel Fuzz, then the most recent of his popular "87th Precinct" crime novels set in a mythical American big city, was initially purchased by Lee Rich for $125,000 [other sources reported $100,000], considered a high price at the time for film rights to a crime novel. According to a Publishers Weekly article on November 25, 1968, Fuzz was serialized in Saturday Evening Post, marking the first time that one of McBain's novels had been serialized in the magazine.
Various news items in 1969 reported that Rich and his partner, Merv Adelson, would produce Fuzz as the second or third venture of their recently formed Lorimar Productions. At that time, S. L. "Sid" Stebel was named as the screenwriter, and production initially was slated to begin in New York in spring 1970. By October 1970, news items reported that Filmways and Javelin would produce the picture; the reason and exact date that the property was moved from Lorimar to Filmways-Javelin has not been determined. Only Evan Hunter (the real name of novelist Ed McBain) is credited onscreen, in SAR and in reviews with the film's screenplay, and it is doubtful that Stebel contributed to the completed film.
News items from 1968 through most of 1971 reported that the picture was to be shot entirely in New York City. By summer 1971, trade papers reported that Brian DePalma was set to direct the picture, but by mid-September 1971 DePalma left the production when filming was delayed due to stalled negotiations with the New York Local 52 branch of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employee's Union. A Daily Variety article on September 15, 1971 reported that David Picker, president of releasing company United Artists, regretted the impasse, which could not be solved by the New York mayor and his film production coordination office, and that the producers were forced to shift production to Los Angeles.
Shortly thereafter, news items reported that the film's setting would be shifted to Boston and that at least two weeks of location shooting would be done there. According to an ad in Variety on November 19, 1971, the production had returned to Los Angeles, where shooting took place at General Service Studios. As noted in press releases, locations in Boston included, among others, Boston Common and Public Gardens, Trinity Church Square and Faneuil Hall.
Although some plot points differed from McBain's novel, the film adaptation of Fuzz loosely follows the book. A notable exception is "Det. Eileen McHenry," a character who does not appear in the book. "The Deaf Man" was an old foe of "Det. Steve Carella" and has appeared in several of the 87th Precinct novels. Some critics have likened him to "Professor Moriarty" of the Sherlock Holmes stories. Although reviews noted that the ending of the film, in which the Deaf Man's hand comes up from the water to grab his hearing aid, seemed to set the stage for a sequel, none was ever made. However, other 87th Precinct novels have been adapted to film and television. For information on those, please consult the entry above for the 1958 release Cop Hater.
As noted in various reviews and press materials, Fuzz opened shortly after Reynolds' appearance as a smiling, strategically posed nude centerfold in the April 1972 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. The centerfold became a popular cultural icon of the 1970s, and many film historians, as well as Reynolds himself, have mentioned the centerfold as one factor in his attaining international stardom. In 1973, Reynolds became one of the top ten box office stars in the world and remained on the list throughout the 1970s. The success of Fuzz and another 1972 release featuring Reynolds, Deliverance, were also considered contributing factors in his burgeoning success.
Released in United States May 1972
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972
Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972
Released in United States May 1972