For those of you who don’t know, I live and work in Detroit. Now, for the most part this isn’t a big deal, aside from the daily shootings and drug deals, this is just another big urban center. When you ask people around the country, ‘what’s the most violent place in the country?’ it seems to me that the standard answer seems to be Detroit. Now, there have been a few years when we weren’t Murder City USA, but those don’t happen too often, you see here in Detroit if we’re not close to the top of the ‘murder city’ list at the end of the year, they put out a flyer and we’re all asked to kill as many people as possible so that we can at least stay in the top ten. It’s a point of pride here.
So, when I saw a movie from the seventies named for the city, I thought it would be an interesting look at the past of this great metropolis I call home, and it is. Detroit 9000, is actually supposed to be police code for ‘officer in trouble’ in Detroit, and this is the story of a cop in trouble in more ways than one. Keep in mind that this story was filmed and takes place in 1973, when the Detroit race riots were still very much on the top of people’s minds. The story here is about a black politician who is being put forward by the community to be the state’s first black governor. Well, in the middle of an event that has been turned into a campaign fundraiser, the place is robbed. Now, the black community is blaming the white cops for not protecting them and the white cops are blaming for black community for not asking for more protection for a big event and the whole thing takes on a racial tone. But the cop that’s put in charge is Alex Rocco, who you’ll probably remember as Jo’s father on The Facts Of Life, he’s a tough Detroit cop who’s only interested in finding the criminals, no matter what race they are, as he says in the movie, “assholes are assholes, I don’t care what color they are, I want thieves caught and put in jail”.
So, to keep the 70s racial peace in Detroit, Alex is given a black partner to help with the case. And, a big deal is made that the black detective is a former college athlete, which seems a little racist for a movie with an anti-racist theme but what are you gonna do, it’s the 70s! Anyway, when the black and white cops start working together the crime begins to unravel. And, it turns out that this crime was a black and white crime! The white crooks are giving the black crooks money for the jewels they’ve stolen. And it seems that the black politician who wants to be governor is as sleazy as the people who robbed him. What’s the most interesting about this movie is that almost none of the crooks are arrested! When we finally get close to getting a crook the police open fire like it’s New Years Eve In Falujah! And no one is arrested at all.
For a 70s movie this is actually pretty good, although dated. The cops seem real, the characters are well drawn, and even the racial remarks that are made back and forth, which would make today’s audiences flinch, are delivered without a blink of the eye, making you think that this is probably how it was in Detroit in the 70s. If you enjoy the 70s or the blaxploitation movies, even though technically this isn’t a blaxploitation movie, it really has all the earmarks of one, then this is right up your alley. It’s called Detroit 9000 and I think that number may actually be the number of rounds of ammo that each cop fires at each criminal they corner! Check it out.