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The Baltimore Bullet (1980)

| April 1, 1980

The buddy comedy The Baltimore Bullet goes a long way on sheer likeability.  It’s not very good as a whole but you’re kind of in it all the way and much of that has to do with the chemistry of its two stars.  When it was over, I was left with a rather vacuous experience but also a halfway crooked smile on my face.

James Coburn plays Nick Casey, a long-running pool hustler nicknamed The Baltimore Bullet, a name that doesn’t immediately imply pool.  It could easily be the nickname of a baseball player, a sprinter, an assassin, a human cannonball or a train.  How he got that sorta hip-cool name is never really discussed.

His buddy is Billy Ray, played by Bruce Boxleitner who is no less adept at the billiard arena but tends to have an achilleas heel when it comes to poker – that being that he not very good at it.  Over and over, he finds himself in the crosshairs when the odds do not land in his favor leading to a lot of demands from his fellow players the pay through the nose or end up bleeding through it.

The loosely constructed story has these two pool hustlers travelling from town to town making big-money bets that afford them the finer things in life.  When they aren’t wooing beautiful dames, they’re taking some poor sucker for all they can get.  And when they’re not doing either, they’re taking bets with each other on trivial nonsense – such as betting on whether or not a waitresses’ boobs are real or silicone.  Classy, huh?

The through-line involves Nick’s long-time obsession with hustling The Deacon (Omar Sharif) a legendary Dapper-Dan hustler who is known as the best in the world.  Deacon just got out the slammer and Nick and Billy Ray spend much of their time trying to raise the $20,000 to get in on a high-stakes tournament at which The Deacon is the headliner.

I can’t say that this is a great movie.  It’s kind of crummy looking in a TV-movie sort-of-way and the music is by Johnny Mandel, most famous for M*A*S*H (you can hear it all the way through).  Many of supporting players are kind of just in the way.  But this is a very likable film if you can get past the rampant misogamy.  I (sort of) enjoyed it.  You’re experience may vary.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(1980) View IMDB Filed in: Uncategorized