Straight Time

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""Please God, don't let him get caught.""
  • R
  • 1978
  • 1 hr 54 min
  • 7.4  (9,918)
  • 64

Straight Time is a crime drama film from 1978, directed by Ulu Grosbard and starring Dustin Hoffman, Theresa Russell, and Gary Busey. The film is based on a novel by Edward Bunker, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Alvin Sargent. It tells the story of Max Dembo (Hoffman), a career criminal who tries to go straight after being released from prison, only to be sucked back into a life of crime.

The film begins with Max being released from prison after serving a six-year sentence. He is met by his girlfriend Jenny Mercer (Russell) and his old friend Willy Darin (Busey), who offer to help him reintegrate into society. Max is determined to stay out of trouble and start a new life, but he soon finds that it's not that simple. He has a hard time finding a job and his criminal past makes it difficult for him to rent an apartment or get a loan.

Max's parole officer, Earl Frazer (M. Emmet Walsh), is also a constant source of stress for him. Earl is a no-nonsense type who is always checking up on Max and threatening to send him back to prison for the slightest infraction. Max tries to keep his head down and stay out of trouble, but he is haunted by his past and the people he has crossed.

Despite his best efforts, Max cannot resist the lure of the criminal lifestyle. He hooks up with a group of thieves led by Jerry Schue (Harry Dean Stanton) and starts pulling off jobs with them. Max convinces himself that he is only doing it to make ends meet and promises Jenny that he'll quit once they have enough money to start a new life together. But as the jobs become riskier and more violent, Max finds himself sinking deeper into a life of crime.

The film is a character study of Max Dembo, a man who is trying to break free from his criminal past but finds it difficult to do so. Max is a complex character, both sympathetic and flawed. Hoffman delivers a nuanced performance, capturing Max's desperation and his underlying rage. Max is a man who has been let down by society and has no other skills besides thievery. He is not a likable character, but he is a compelling one.

The supporting cast is also excellent, especially Gary Busey as Max's friend Willy. Busey imbues the character with a sense of loyalty and humor that make him likable despite his own criminal tendencies. Theresa Russell is also impressive as Max's girlfriend Jenny, a woman who loves Max but is tired of his criminal lifestyle.

The film's direction by Ulu Grosbard is understated but effective. He allows the actors to shine and doesn't resort to flashy camera work or editing. The film's score by David Shire is also notable, with its jazzy, melancholic tone perfectly capturing the film's mood.

Overall, Straight Time is an excellent crime drama that explores the complexities of the criminal lifestyle. It is a character study that is both gritty and nuanced, and features a superb performance from Dustin Hoffman. It is a film that will linger in your mind long after you've watched it.

Straight Time is a 1978 crime movie with a runtime of 1 hour and 54 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.4 and a MetaScore of 64.

Straight Time
Where to Watch Straight Time
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 54 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.4  (9,918)
  • Metascore