A Piece of the Action (1977)

Genres - Comedy  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Comedy  |   Release Date - Oct 7, 1977 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 134 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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The third and final installment in the Bill Cosby/Sidney Poitier "trilogy," A Piece of the Action again abandons the characters and plot lines of previous outings to provide a new variation on the stars' buddy dynamics. The film also eschews straight-up crime comedy for something a little more socially conscious. Although the comedic bits prove too broad to gel particularly well -- unless one counts the unintentional humor in hearing Poitier meticulously intone, "You not dealing with a boy, titty-sucker" -- the caper elements provide a nice contrast to prevailing Blaxploitation stereotypes. As in Uptown Saturday Night and Let's Do It Again, the film's classy gangster schtick is borrowed from classic crime flicks rather than their gaudier '70s descendants. A Piece of the Action may not have seemed au courant at the time of its release, but its breezy entertainment has dated fairly well. The film also, however, offers a thoughtful streak during the plot thread in which Poitier (echoing his performances in The Blackboard Jungle and To Sir, With Love) teaches job skills to a group of inner-city youths. In stark contrast to such feel-good, white-savior mythology as Dangerous Minds and The Principal, A Piece of the Action treats the subject intelligently and from several angles, exploring downwardly mobile peer pressure and bourgeois guilt with something approaching real insight. The neat ending may not completely resolve such thorny issues, but for a supposedly lightweight romp, this film has a lot on its mind.