A curiosity featuring the very young Robert De Niro as Sammy Nicoletti, seen in a prologue and then in flashbacks throughout, chatting on the phone and screening a nudie movie on a flatbed moviola (shades of TAXI DRIVER, if you have a particularly flexible imagination) before an mysterious intruder creeps in and murders him.
The rest of the movie unfolds "ten years later," as Sammy's brother, Vito (Anthony Charnota), gets out of jail and vows before the graves of his late mother and brother that he'll find the man who killed Sammy. He also learns from the caretaker that a beautiful woman visits Sammy's grave every Thursday and leaves flower. Vito pays a visit to Father Testa, who gives him a box containing Sammy's effects, including several cans of film; he then visits the office of publisher Erica Moore (Sybil Danning). Sammy attended a weekend party at Erica's home shortly before his death, when the younger Erica (Jennifer Warren) and her husband, Andrew (Jerry Mickey), were having marital troubles. She was convinced Andrew was having an affair with the cold, slutty Carol (Terrayne Crawford); Sammy lent a sympathetic ear but also took up with Carol. Andrew, Erica reports bitterly, later divorced her to marry Carol; he's now running for governor. The next day, Vito again visits the cemetary and meets Vivian Buck (Lisa Blount), the mystery lady who's been leaving flowers for Sammy. She confesses that she met Sammy when, as an indigent teenager, she appeared in several of his porno films. Vito is shocked; he had no idea his kid brother was in the smut business. The cast also includes Jennifer Warren and the lovely Sybil Danning in her first American screen appearance; she went on to a productive career as the queen of low-budget actioners such as JUNGLE WARRIORS (1984) and REFORM SCHOOL GIRLS (1986).
The film began life as "Sam's Song," an unfinished film about New York-based movie buff trying to complete a documentary about then-president Richard Nixon that was shot in 1969. Sam gets involved with a crowd of wealthy characters during a weekend on Long Island and, disenchanted by their shallowness, decides to return to his life of films. In 1980, with De Niro firmly established as a world class star, the film was re-cut and re-released theatrically and on video as THE SWAP/LINE OF FIRE, with additional footage by John C. Broderick used to turn it into a gangster picture a la THE GODFATHER. Danning's extensive voice over ties the disparate pieces of footage together.
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- Released: 1980
- Rating: R
- Review: A curiosity featuring the very young Robert De Niro as Sammy Nicoletti, seen in a prologue and then in flashbacks throughout, chatting on the phone and screening a nudie movie on a flatbed moviola (shades of TAXI DRIVER, if you have a particularly flexible… (more)