Cooper "Coop", is a small but successful cog in the LA underworld. He on top of his world, He is a fence, receiving stolen goods which he stores in the various warehouses around 5th Street in downtown LA. He is known as the "Key Man" for the large ring of keys he always carries. Business is booming, and there is a serious shortage of storage space.
Cooper has been cobbling a deal to get "the block" a very large brick warehouse complex, 400,000 square feet, with rail spurs, comprising nineteen addresses, that sits on a full city block down in the 5th and Alameda district. It will be "like Grand Central Station". The word is out that the old street boss is losing control, if he doesn't deliver this block, 5th Street goes down the toilet and he'll go with it. The deal is in limbo because crooked LAPD official Elias and his downtown cronies are dragging ass, wanting more juice. Cooper's immediate boss Carl is putting pressure on him to get it done. Carl's bosses are a new breed, razor cuts, bookkeepers and lawyers who don't understand the streets.
|Coop and Carl|
Jason Miller is practically a double for Charles McGraw without the gravelly voice, there are some great believable performances here from Victor French (who you won't recognize) he comes off as an interesting mix of Art Carney and Walter Matthau, and from Linda Haynes the smalltown born, ex Vegas showgirl. The side story of Coop and Sarah and their affection for each other is well done. John Hillerman is the "Hollywood-ish" mob underboss, and Bo Hopkins is outlandish as the politely creepy "Cadillac Cowboy" hit man. This film builds slowly in tension much like Night And The City (1950) does.
A bonus to this film is Tom Waits song about this skid row section of Los Angeles, called On The Nickel, so here it is, enjoy.
On the Nickel
Sticks and stones will break my bones I always will be true
and when your mama's dead and gone I'll sing this lullaby just for you
and what becomes of all the little boys who never comb their hair
they're lined up all around the block on the nickel over there
so better bring a bucket there's a hole in the pail
and if you don't get my letter then you'll know that I'm in jail
and what becomes of all the little boys who never say their prayers
they're sleepin like a baby on the nickel over there
and if you chew tobacco and wish upon a star
you'll find out where the scarecrows sit just like punch lines between the cars
and I know a place where a royal flush can never beat a pair
and even Thomas Jefferson is on the nickel over there
so ring around the rosie sleepin in the rain
and you're always late for supper man you let me down let me down again
and I thought I heard a mockingbird Roosevelt knows where
you can skip the light with Grady Tuck on the nickel over there
so what becomes of all the little boys who run away from home
the world just keeps gettin bigger once you get out on your own
so here's to all the little boys the sandman takes you where
you're sleepin with a pillow man on the nickel over there
so climb up through that button hole and fall right up the stairs
and I'll show you where the short dogs grow on the nickel