I remember seeing THE SEVEN-UPS when it was first released in December, 1973. I was a senior in high school. Like everyone else who has seen this film, the one thing I remember the most is the hell-and-gone car chase that occurs in the middle of the movie. It's a thrilling set piece that continues the tradition of vehicular thrills and mayhem begun in BULLITT (1968) and THE FRENCH CONNECTION (1971). That's because one man, Philip D'Antoni was responsible for all three films. D'Antoni produced both BULLITT and FRENCH CONNECTION and he made his directing debut with THE SEVEN-UPS.
The story revolves around an elite group of NYPD detectives who use any means necessary to bust criminals for crimes carrying a prison sentence of seven years or more, hence the title. Buddy Manucci (Roy Scheider) is the leader of the team and Buddy is similar to the cop Scheider played in THE FRENCH CONNECTION. Buddy's childhood friend (Tony Lo Bianco), is mobbed-up and serves as an informant for Buddy. Buddy has a list of mobsters he wants to take down but before he can do so, someone starts kidnapping the gangsters and holding them for big ransoms. When a member of the team is killed by the kidnappers, Buddy's quest becomes personal. He figures out who is behind the kidnappers but only after much gun play and a spectacular car chase.
The chase occurs on the streets of New York City and the countryside outside of the city. The bad guys are driving a 1973 Pontiac Grand Ville (a veritable land yacht of a car), while Buddy is behind the wheel of a 1973 Pontiac Ventura Custom Sprint Coupe, a muscle car with extreme speed and a roaring engine. It's a thrilling set piece that is far and away the best thing about the film.
Not that the rest of the movie is bad, mind you. THE SEVEN-UPS is a very good '70s urban crime film. There's nothing glamorous about New York City in this film. The cops have no personal lives, wives or girlfriends. They are totally focused on their job. And the mobsters are all sleaze bags. Tough, gritty and hard nosed, THE SEVEN-UPS is definitely worth checking out.