The Take (1974 film)

The Take is a 1974 British-American action crime drama film directed by Robert Hartford-Davis and starring Billy Dee Williams, Eddie Albert, Frankie Avalon, Sorrell Booke, Tracy Reed, and Albert Salmi. It is based on the 1970 novel Sir, You Bastard by G. F. Newman. The film was released by Columbia Pictures in May 1974.[2][3][4]

The Take
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Hartford-Davis
Produced byHoward Brandy
Stanley Rubin
Rick Senat
Written byFranklin Coen
Del Reisman
Based onSir, You Bastard
by G. F. Newman
StarringBilly Dee Williams
Eddie Albert
Frankie Avalon
Sorrell Booke
Tracy Reed
Albert Salmi
Music byFred Karlin
CinematographyDuke Callaghan
Edited byDavid de Wilde
Aaron Stell
World Film Services
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • May 15, 1974 (1974-05-15) (Los Angeles)[1]
Running time
91 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States


Lt. Terrence Sneed, a San Francisco policeman, is summoned to Paloma, New Mexico to help take down a local organized crime syndicate led by kingpin Victor Manso, a respected community leader. Soon after Sneed's arrival, he and Captain Frank Dolek stop a group of gangsters who ambush a courthouse and attempt to flee in a truck, but four officers are killed in the shootout. Later, Sneed visits his former lover, Dr. Nancy Edmondson, but she refuses to revive their relationship and accuses him of corruption. Sneed drives to the home office of Manso and accepts an envelope of cash to act as a middleman between law enforcement and the crime syndicate; Sneed learns that Capt. Dolek is also on the take.

Sometime later, Sneed hooks up with his money launderer Oscar, whom Sneed orders to follow Dolek. Sneed goes to the apartment of suspect Danny James, overpowers him and intimidates him into becoming an informant. Later, James informs reveals that a drug dealer named Zeno Elliot will be making a delivery to Manso. Sneed and Native American detective John Tallbear break into Elliot's apartment and find cocaine. Back at the station, Dolek tells Sneed that Elliot is to be released from police custody under orders of Manso, but Sneed blackmails Manso by revealing that he's had the captain followed. When Sneed returns to Manso's office he is beaten up for betraying Dolek, but Manso nevertheless calls Sneed valuable and gives him another cash payment. Manso's henchmen dump Sneed at Nancy's house, where she tends to his wounds.

Sneed and Tallbear raid Manso's mansion while he is attending a ceremony. They have to flee when Manso returns early after suffering a heart attack, but they obtain enough information to put a strike force into operation to intercept the vans Manso uses to transport illegal goods. Sneed leads a stakeout of Manso's front business, a paper company. However, Dolek has informed Manso of the plan. After two decoy vans mislead police, Sneed gives chase to a third van headed for the Mexican border; after it stalls in a river and Sneed fights the driver, Benedetto, he finds the van full of counterfeiting equipment. Benedetto bribes Sneed to minimize his charges, while Capt. Dolek double-crosses Sneed by informing Chief Berrigan about Sneed's corruption. After Sneed collects his take from Benedetto, he is confronted by Chief Berrigan and several officers in a set-up that Manso arranged. While Sneed pleads innocence back at the police station, claiming that the cash was his own (having switched the incriminating notes with Oscar), Benedetto is shot dead by Tallbear, eliminating Berrigan's only witness. Sneed's gun is returned to him and he goes to Manso's estate with several other officers, but Sneed refuses to admit guilt and Sneed gives in. Later, Tallbear informs Sneed that the price of Benedetto's murder is "fifty percent of everything." Sneed then reveals that he's been promoted to captain.



Variety noted, "Tame police meller looks more like a vidseries pilot than a theatrical release. Okay of its omnipresent kind."[5] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film one-and-a-half stars out of four and wrote, "Is he a crooked cop, or he is just grabbing some extra dough while doing his job? If you can sit thru at least a dozen murders, assorted illegalities by both hoods and police, and the ubiquitous car chase, you will get an answer to the question. But believe me, it isn't worth the wait."[6] Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times called it "a lively, well-made action film, distinctive largely for its deeply cynical tone ... A film without anyone to root for or care much about is a risky proposition, but so much happens at such a fast clip that 'The Take' is actually quite diverting."[7] Geoff Brown of The Monthly Film Bulletin declared that there is "no denying that at times The Take positively bristles with pace and professionalism: cars swerve about with tyres and sirens screaming, helicopters swoop, bullets sizzle and bodies fall—all captured with neatly feverish editing and a pounding soundtrack. And the film maintains its momentum in spite of its rather indecipherable story-line."[8]


  1. "The Take - Details". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. American Film Institute. Retrieved May 31, 2019.
  2. "The Take". Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  3. "The Take". AllMovie. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  4. "The Take". Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  5. "Film Reviews: The Take". Variety. May 15, 1974. 24.
  6. Siskel, Gene (May 27, 1974). "Thunderbolt and Lightfoot". Chicago Tribune. Section 2, p. 9.
  7. Thomas, Kevin (May 16, 1974). "Playing Two Ends Against Middle". Los Angeles Times. Part IV, p. 26.
  8. Brown, Geoff (October 1974). "The Take". The Monthly Film Bulletin. 41 (489): 230.
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