SCARECROW ON SEATTLE
In appreciation and recognition of Seattle's long and illustrious film history, we are proud to partner with Scarecrow Video to bring you weekly reviews of historical Seattle films. Each week we will showcase a new movie, with special emphasis on how these films show Seattle's most filmable locations.
Sometimes called the blaxploitation version of The French Connection, Hit! is an obscure revenge movie starring Billy Dee Williams as a federal agent whose daughter overdoses on heroin. Like any good father he declares war on the source of the drugs. In this case the target is a bunch of French guys in Marseille. Billy Dee's character is a badass, but he realizes that this is not a one-man job and recruits a disparate group of people whose lives have been negatively affected by the drug ring. His crew includes the great Richard Pryor, Gwen Welles (just before she started working with Robert Altman), Warren J. Kemmerling, Sid Melton and Janet Brandt. After a bit of training, the group eventually travels to France and commits several hits. The French Connection comparison is apt as the film shares several stylistic and thematic elements, but Hit! is not really a typical blaxploitation film-- the use of Williams and Pryor reflects colorblind casting as there really isn't anything specifically "African American" about their roles. It is also not a typical "Shot in Seattle" film as only a small portion of the plot actually takes place in Seattle and the director steadfastly avoids the Space Needle and strolls through the Pike Place Market. A meeting takes place on a ferry in Elliott Bay but, other than that, there aren't really any obvious Seattle locations. I think several bits were shot in the area, including a car chase near Monroe and a snowy encounter that looks like it was filmed near Shilshoe Bay, plus there are many scenes littered with Olympia Beer bottles and cans. A training session takes place in a deserted Canadian town but I think it may have been filmed around Discovery Bay. Take that Canada! Hit! was directed by Sidney J. Furie whose interesting career topped out in the early 70s and then spiraled into hackdom, with Furie helming most of the Iron Eagle flicks as well as lesser Rodney Dangerfield comedies. I really liked this film but, unfortunately, it is only available on a faded, pan and scan VHS tape, which, of course, is available at Scarecrow Video. --Spenser Hoyt