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Director  Peter Hyams
Music director  Billy Goldenberg
Writer  Peter Hyams
Language  English
6.2/10 IMDb

Genre  Crime, Drama
Country  United States
Busting movie poster
Release date  1974 (1974)
Producers  Irwin Winkler, Robert Chartoff
Cast  Elliott Gould (Vice Detective Michael Keneely), Robert Blake (Vice Detective Patrick Farrel), Allen Garfield (Carl Rizzo), Antonio Fargas (Stephen), Michael Lerner (Marvin), Sid Haig (Rizzo's Bouncer)
Similar movies  Independence Day, Straight Outta Compton, Southland Tales, Jamon Jamon, The Boy Next Door, Sexual Chronicles of a French Family
Tagline  What this film exposes about undercover vice cops can't be seen on your television set.

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Busting is a 1974 film directed by Peter Hyams, starring Elliott Gould and Robert Blake as Los Angeles police detectives. This film was the main inspiration for the television show Starsky & Hutch, launched in 1975.


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Plot summary

The film is episodic, depicting the two vice-squad detectives teaming on several different cases, with varying degrees of success. The focus changes to them trying to bust one man, an LA crime kingpin named Carl Rizzo (Allen Garfield), whom they believe to be responsible for much of the criminal activity they have been investigating.

The film is extremely cynical, strongly implying that crime does pay and that the biggest criminals in society are corrupt politicians and businessmen who will never be punished for their crimes. The film ends with an unusual soundtrack flashforward. While we see Keneely (Gould) attempting to arrest a powerful figure who will ultimately walk free, we also hear something which hasn't happened yet: Keneely quitting the police force and applying for a civilian job.

Busting is similar to the movie Freebie and the Bean, although the latter was more comedic and was actually delayed in release so the two films would not directly compete. Busting did not do as well at the box office as Freebie and the Bean, arguably due to its more cynical style and tone.


  • Elliott Gould as Keneely
  • Robert Blake as Farrell
  • Allen Garfield as Rizzo
  • Antonio Fargas as Stephen
  • Michael Lerner as Marvin
  • Production

    Hyams was able to make the film off the back of the success of his TV movie, Goodnight, My Love. "I’d made a TV movie of the week that people had liked, and people started coming after me," he recalled. "The producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler came to me and said they wanted to do a film about vice cops. I said okay, and spent about six months researching it."

    Hyams later said "like a journalist, I went around to New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles and spoke with hookers, pimps, strippers and cops and DAs. Every episode in the film was true."


    The film was not a popular success.


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