Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Mystery in "Shamus" gets lost in the plot

Cleveland Press February 8, 1973

"Shamus" is a movie that moves quickly while its plot moves slowly. Sometimes its plot doesn't move at all.

When it's over and you think about it, you realize that from about mid-point on nothing has held together.

With good private-eye dramas so rare, the lack of some half-way decent plotting is unfortunate. There's plenty of mystery at the beginning but it's all promises, just empty promises.

THE PICTURE is mainly designed as a vehicle for Burt Reynolds, an actor who proved he could act in "Deliverance." In "Shamus" it's another Reynolds, the one out of the center-fold of Cosmopolitan.

Indoors he's bare chested a lot. Outdoors he's fully clothed and doing some of the fanciest leaping, running and jumping that's ever been done through the backyards of Brooklyn, where the movie was filmed. If he isn't proving he's an actor this time around he's certainly making it clear that he's reasonably agile.

The picture opens with a couple in bed getting murdered by a fellow with a flamethrower. The murderer makes off with a safe filled with diamonds.

ON COME the titles and we meet Reynolds who is a private eye. He lives in a sleazy apartment where he has a pool table for a bed and a wandering wench or two to share it, a cat, and arsenal and a couple of clean shirts.

Reynolds is hired by a millionaire who originally owned the diamonds and wants them back. Everywhere Reynolds turns he finds people unwilling to talk.

WHILE A COUPLE of tough guys gnarl at him to lay off he gets roughed up badly enough to put anyone else in the hospital for several weeks. This detective is out asking for more trouble the next morning.

A variety of characters are introduced but are never fully accounted for. One of them has a pretty sister who is played by Dyan Cannon because you don't make movies like this without a Dyan Cannon or the equivalent.

There's also an eccentric hanger-on who quotes sports statistics endlessly, without even being asked. It's an odd form of running gag that doesn't work.

There's an attempt at some cute dialog and fancy antics but the moviemakers didn't have the right touch. It's also an odd mixture with the violence which is generally on the nasty side.