Castor’s Underrated Gems – The Super Cops (1974)

Prefaced with candid interviews from the real-life subjects, Greenberg and Hantz, the busts and cumulative crime-fighting of the duo is genuflected with a flamboyantly cyclonic, pungently funny, rollicking stranger-than-fiction saga. When the instructor heeds “don’t look for trouble”, the next scene is filigreed with irony when a pedestrian tries to peddle a suitcase of pilfered merchandise to Greenberg (Ron Leibman) before he nearly stabbing him.

Lorenzo Semple Jr.’s script is boastfully jaunty and rarefied to the lean cat-and-mouse essentials. As with his blaxploitation flicks, Gordon Parks’ style is striated with flippancy (e.g. For one collar, they camouflage themselves inside a shipping box). A few months ago, Leibman unfortunately passed away from pneumonia complications and his performance as Greenberg is chipper and a spotlight for his indefatigable energy. In fact, Leibman is so spunky that Selby dilates when sharing the screen with him.

Eschewing jurisdiction in Coney Island and court hearings while on probationary traffic duty, the recklessness of Greenberg and Hantz is sprinkled with serendipity. Yet the viewers are always in veneration to their ennobled sense of civic obedience. Leibman and David Selby don’t patronize them into solipsistic, hammy stereotypes; they are truly devoted to the law to the point of unimpeachable conviction (ex. They complain about two days off upon their Bed-Stuy assignment). They can’t traipse down the street without sniffing out a transgression or registering a certified informant.

The stabilizing force is their precinct captain who is outwardly critical of their methods but secretly condone their unorthodox earnestness. It’s a brilliant deconstruction of the haranguing-superior bromide. Don’t let the comic-book moniker bamboozle you, The Super Cops is an outstandingly rowdy action-comedy. Their exploits were such fodder for legacy that it became the origin for Starsky and Hutch.

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