The Take (1974) Blu-ray Review


Billy Dee on the Take

Terry Sneed makes $15,000 a year as a cop – a good cop too. He runs toward danger, sniffs out organized crime, and stands in the middle of a shoot-out to stop bad guys. He’s also taking in corrupt money as a supplement.

Sneed (Billy Dee Williams) wants in on the local economy. He sees business opportunities. That’s the only way a black man in the ‘70s can get ahead in a cultural scenario where bigotry and racism persist. That’s The Take as a whole, skimming blaxploitation without much of the genre’s gratuitous flourishes. Billy Dee is too cool for that.

The Take isn’t in a rush. It’s content with letting Billy Dee take over the screen, chatting up local mobsters and calmly, smoothly agitating his superiors. It’s overly talkative and slow, biding time for an elaborate car chase in the finale that likely soaked up budget constraints.

A few gobs of blood aside, the energy of blaxsploitation isn’t evident

Billy Dee is the only participant with any screen charisma. Although the cast involves Vic Morrow, Eddie Albert, and Frankie Avalon, The Take plods along listlessly. There’s no energy, and the money trail isn’t an engaging plot device as intended.

Even the cultural leanings read flat, with Sneed an example of police working for the people while exploiting the system for himself. Sneed plays both sides, an anti-hero designed to outwit a litany of white men who can’t grasp Sneed’s gamesmanship. He wins, they lose, weaseling through economics designed to keep marginalized people down. It’s not entirely inspiring – Sneed doesn’t win any honesty points – but it’s a film based on a novel by an English writer who clearly saw racial disparity.

In translation to the screen, that novel turns into a droll, even routine procedural. A few gobs of blood aside, the energy of blaxsploitation isn’t evident. The Take exists halfway between the genre and serious cop drama, unable to land cleanly between them.

Video

Oh dear. Blu-ray saw a number of badly compressed transfers in its time. The Take sets a new low standard. The chunkiness of this image is unreal, less than DVD even, given the improvements to the 480p format over the years. The Take doesn’t feature a grain structure as much as a screen of artifacts, laid over a dated print.

Signs of yellowing indicate a lack of color correction, produced for this Blu-ray as-is. Luckily, the source doesn’t suffer in the way of damage, a few scratches aside. Debris scatters around, but not severe either. Maybe the compression covers everything up.

So-so fidelity does bring out a smidgen of facial texture. That covers the extreme close-ups. The rest dies by way of artifacts, smearing with movement. Underneath this transfer exists an acceptable image. Whatever happened is a shame.

Audio

Low budget audio deals with background noise and other natural impediments. Those aside, treble runs aground, too harsh and strained. Dialog’s flatness fails to impress even when graded on a curve of ‘70s blaxsploitation.

Bits of the soundtrack struggle, but survive. The DTS-HD mono effort maintains the saxophone without much loss.

Extras

Paired on the same disc with Black Gunn, the two films offer no bonus features.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

The Take
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
2

Movie

Billy Dee Williams joins up with local police to take down the mob in The Take, but it’s never a particularly interesting story.

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