Barry Shear directed and Luther Davis wrote (after a novel by Wally Ferrsi) Across 110th Street in 1972 and the film stars Anthony Quinn as Mattelli and Yaphet Kotto as Pope. Pope and Mattelli are two police detectives, Mattelli white and Pope black, who investigate a bloody machine gun murder that took place in Harlem, in a location in which there rarely are any white people doing something else than business. Somebody stole big amount of Italian mafia's money and it all ended up in the bloody shoot out, and only the thieves got away alive. The two lead characters try to solve this thing before it is too late, since the mafia is willing to use violent ways in order to get its money back..This is a premise for this classic film.
I really love the atmosphere in this film since it is something that totally lacks in most of today's films. The setting in Harlem is very ugly, dirty and gritty and therefore true to life. This film doesn't hide anything, it shows the true faces of life in this big city and all the diseases from prostitution to murder that live inside it. This film is pretty close to Don Siegel's masterpiece, Dirty Harry (1971) which also showed very gritty urban setting without any bit of humor or something to ease the realistic and merciless atmosphere. The photography is also very great and technically there are no worth mentioning flaws in this film. The action scenes are exciting - albeit not too plenty - and everything in this film is as powerful and effective as the director and screenwriter intended to.
The most tragic character is Quinn's Mattelli, who is 55 and not so willing to continue his life in police and with all this scum. Kotto's character is younger and still willing to keep on, but at the end of the movie, he may have another thoughts about his life, too. The end scene is very powerful and memorable mostly because it is so tragic and sad and also intelligent and thought-provoking. The whole last 10 minutes is very remarkable as the tension is in top and no one knows how this will end and, more importantly, who will be alive at the end. Bullets when fired do their jobs and never leave anyone alive in this violent and greedy world.
The performances are totally wonderful, and I personally like Quinn the most in this difficult film. He acts very convincingly and has some hard scenes and segments, which show his abilities as an actor. The violence despite being brutal in mental way, is very strong physically, too, as the mafia tortures people without remorse in order to reach its target, but also they should have finished before it became too late. Violence and crime never pays, and this is again one movie to depict and tell about it. This film may not be too "graphically violent" by today's video game and R rating standards, but compared to most of today's films, violence is far stronger and emotionally challenging in this honest film, which never glamorizes its brutality with stupid one liners and humor efforts. This is among the most realistic crime films I've ever seen. The moneybag at the end leaves some hope for tomorrow, even though the hope is for most of the protagonists themselves too late.
Across 110th Street has some pretty non-believable scenes and segments, which are not explained too carefully and seem little unconvincing, but they are very few and are easy to forgive after all the merits and positive things this film gives. This film is as classic as Dirty Harry and I give this 9/10 rating and recommend it very highly for lovers of gritty gangster and crime films, which never have any stupid efforts to amuse and entertain the audience with humor or other popcorn methods.