Freebie and the Bean (1974 D: Richard Rush, W: Robert Kaufman and Floyd Mutrux)
Alan Arkin can do no wrong in my book. In this comedy/thriller, directed by oddball Richard Rush (The Stunt Man, Psych Out), he’s a Mexican detective (yes, named “The Bean” — this movie has serious stereotype/race/gender politics problems, not the least of which was referenced in The Celluloid Closet, a great documentary about the depiction of gays and lesbians in film) paired with cop-on-the-take James Caan. Arkin’s simmering frustration, venting occasionally in that yelling-without-really-yelling thing he does contrasts with Caan’s smirking. Arkin’s just flat-out hilarious.There are gigantic stunt set-pieces, including a motorcycle chase in the Embarcadero in San Francisco and a car crash into the 5th floor of an apartment building. A subplot between Arkin and Valerie Harper playing, yes, “Bean’s Wife,” is less entertaining, but adds a slightly human touch to the overall cartoonish procedure. One of the first real buddy cop movies, and Arkin and Caan set the standard.