7.4/10
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69 user 49 critic

Straight Time (1978)

After being released on parole, a career burglar assaults his former probation officer, returns to a life of crime, and goes on the run.

Directors:

Ulu Grosbard, Dustin Hoffman (uncredited)

Writers:

Edward Bunker (novel), Alvin Sargent (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dustin Hoffman ... Max Dembo
Theresa Russell ... Jenny Mercer
Gary Busey ... Willy Darin
Harry Dean Stanton ... Jerry Schue
M. Emmet Walsh ... Earl Frank
Rita Taggart ... Carol Schue
Kathy Bates ... Selma Darin
Sandy Baron ... Manny
Jake Busey ... Henry Darin (as Jacob Busey)
Tina Menard ... Hotel Manager
Stephanie Ericsson Stephanie Ericsson ... Bar Patron (as Stephanie Ericsson Baron)
Dave Kelly Dave Kelly ... Counterman
Don Sommese Don Sommese ... Waiter
Kit Jee Wong Kit Jee Wong ... Grocer
Peter Kwong ... Grocery Clerk
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Storyline

After many juvenile detentions and six years in prison, the small time thief and burglar Max Dembo is released on parole. Max has an initial friction with his nasty parole officer Earl Frank, but the officer agrees to let him live in a hotel room if he gets a job within a week. Max goes to an employment agency and the attendant Jenny Mercer helps him to get a job in a can industry. Max is decided to begin a new life straight and visits his old friend Willy Darin and his family. When Willy brings Max home, he injects heroin and leaves his spoon under Max's bed. Max dates Jenny and on the next day after hours, he finds Frank waiting for him snooping around his room. Frank finds the spoon and sends Max to prison for tests to prove whether he had a fix or not. Despite the negative result, Frank leaves Max for a week imprisoned. When Max is released again, Frank gives a ride and presses him to tell who had a fix in his room. Max hits Frank, steals his car and seeks out his former friends ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

He's an ex-con. He's got to get a job . . . keep his dignity . . . and still go straight! [Australia Theatrical] See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | Cantonese

Release Date:

21 April 1978 (Italy) See more »

Also Known As:

No Beast So Fierce See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$9,900,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$9,900,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

First Artists, Sweetwall See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Dustin Hoffman acquired the film rights to Edward Bunker's novel "No Beast So Fierce" for his own company Sweetwall Productions. See more »

Goofs

There's a mark on the inside of Max's motel room door in one scene, then the next scene there is no mark (this is because, according to the commentary, they redid the motel room in a studio for night shots). See more »

Quotes

Max Dembo: You know what I'd like to do... Why don't you run me by that hotel we'll check it out.
Mickey: Yeah, well I'll drive you out there but I'm not gonna rob it for you, you have to do that yourself. I got stomach trouble... no guts.
See more »


Soundtracks

Two of Us
Music by David Shire
Lyrics by Norma Green (as Norma Helms)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
An excellent film. Hoffman at his apex.
24 March 2005 | by jjm71See all my reviews

A great film. Dustin Hoffman is at his peak here, and shows why he's one of the five greatest actors of his generation as he inhabits the character of Max Dembo, a career criminal who's just been released on parole. The movie is brilliant in it's pacing, as we see the layers of Dembo slowly revealed. We want to believe he's a good guy who just made a mistake ("I just want the same things everyone else wants..."), but as the film goes on we see one transgression after another that ultimately reveal to us that he may not be the man we thought he was in the beginning. An excellent portrayal by Hoffman is at the center of the movie, but there is also fine work on display from M. Emmett Walsh (maybe the greatest character actor of all time) as his parole officer, and Theresa Russell (looking like she's about 18) as his naive love interest. Hoffman is brilliant in his interpretation of a prison lifer. Check out the scene where his P.O. throws him back in jail on a petty bust just so he can show Dembo who's in charge. Walsh nails his part as the small man who compensates for his shortcomings by abusing what little authority he has (in other words, a dead on portrayal of almost all law officers), but Hoffman is absolutely perfect as he goes into his thousand yard stare mode while going through the jail house routine of frisking and delousing. The look on his face says "You can't hurt me because I'm numb". Very few flaws in this film. Hell, even the Randy Newmanesque music that plays throughout is perfectly suited. I was enthralled from the opening scene to the last, which is, fittingly, a series of mugshots of Hoffman's Dembo over the years. Highly recommend.


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