But while I was expecting "Basic Instinct 1975" - really just a provocative whodunit with high libidos, high style, and high suspense at its side- I surprisingly didn't find myself all too disappointed with the downer that moved about in front of me for two hours. Sure I'm not so much in favor of the way its ending avoids happiness for the sake of avoiding happiness, and sure I think its outcries that you can't fight the man no matter how hard you try are trifling rather than disconcerting. But police procedurals that seem more concerned with developing relationships between its characters than they do with expanding a central mystery are rare, and "Hustle," for all its setbacks, is refreshingly intimate and unabashedly grim.
It follows Reynolds's Lt. Phil Gaines as he investigates the fishy death of Gloria Hollinger (Colleen Brennan), a twenty year old whose body is discovered by a group of kids during a dour trip to the beach. Shortly after the coroner examines her corpse is it ruled that her death was a suicide; she purposely took too many pills to leave her sad life - which consisted of stripping, prostituting, and acting in triple X features - behind. But her father, Korean vet Marty (Ben Johnson), won't admit to himself that his pride and joy would do such a thing, and so Gaines and his partner (Paul Winfield) can't help themselves from looking further into the details that surrounded her demise.
But "Hustle's" most rousing aspect is not the solving of its unsolvable mystery. Better yet is its focusing on the relationship between Gaines and his girlfriend Nicole (Deneuve), a French prostitute who takes her work just as seriously as he does his. A side plot of its sort would be throwaway if "Hustle" weren't so harshly naturalistic, but Reynolds and Deneuve seem so enamored with one another that they temporarily convince us that the age old love story starring a cop and a hooker will actually work out in the end.
Considerable amounts of time are spent checking in on the quiet moments they share at Nicole's chic beach bungalow, preferring to spotlight their meet-cute imitating zingy rapport over exploiting framings of their sex life (though some scenes are after a flash of pink). In seeing them interact do we find ourselves caring a great deal about these people, so when the conclusion betrays our hope that everything will ultimately be fine as long as the two find a way out of their respective societal bubbles, we're not persuaded that pessimism is right for a film so pessimistic on an overarching level. We feel cheated, if only because Steven Shagan, who writes, and Aldrich, who directs, seem to assure us that their relationship is a symbol of the looming optimism that awaits them.
Bitter as I am, however, stunning is the way "Hustle" is able to portray an investigation with such holistic realism. Reynolds is believably sapped, Johnson is scarily furious, and Eileen Brennan, as the latter's wife, is the film's secret weapon as a woman who dreamt of seeing the American Dream through but has instead seen her life destroyed by tragedy. And the depiction of the seedy underworld (that eventually proves to be tied to the city's own higher powers and points of corruption) that got the best of Gloria is tenably frightening. But "Hustle," however much good it has embedded in its unsentimental frames, is a joyless experience - I don't believe I could watch it a second time.
Then, it turns out that the cops' way of repenting for what they've done (only subconsciously, mind you), is to create a massive fiction surrounding another murder. It's a mean jab at the other cop films of the time (and later on as well), and it's refreshing at that. Great ending, too.
Aldrich is an extremly underated director,who managed to survive the collaspse of the studio system and turn out key genre works in the late 60s and 70s .
This is one of his toughest genre films and Reynolds puts in a real grade A performance.
Reynolds is on pretty good form here as cop who has to deal with lowlifes and politicians who escape justice while ordinary folks are denied that justice.
When a girl turns up dead on a beach in LA the father(An excellent Ben Johnson) wants justice and Reynolds just wants to move onto another case.
Amid all this Reynolds is in love with call girl Catherine Denuve who has connections to the seedier elements of the high rolling class most notably Eddie Albert.
The script by Steve Shagan is a bleak world of the LA we never see and Aldrich adds to that seedy touch.
Leonard Matlin hates this movie and although it has its flaws i think its a film which gets better with age especially considering some of the dreck Reynolds would later churn out.
as his characters says in the film, "those bastards never die".