A disturbing and grim modern film noir directed by Aldrich, who was a master of the genre in the early 1950s. Reynolds stars as Phil Gaines, a bitter, cynical cop who finds the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and launches an investigation to determine her identity. After she
is identified as a small-time hooker and porno actress, Gaines calls in the girl's parents, Marty (Johnson, in a superb performance) and Paula (Brennan), to identify the body. Soon Gaines finds himself competing with the headstrong Marty to solve a crime that turns out to have grave personal
implications for them both.
Director Aldrich (KISS ME DEADLY) offers an unrelentingly diseased portrait of modern society in HUSTLE. Reynolds is trapped in this disgusting, seedy world from the opening of the film when his pleasant day off is intruded upon by the washed-up corpse, forcing him back into the underworld. There
is no way out. HUSTLE is one of the few examples of true modern film noir. But director and screenwriter cannot resolve their different approaches. The script's humanistic, if depressing, angle gets battered by Aldrich's approach. An interesting mixed bag.
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