RVOD132 Cops: Who Needs Them?

(1973, Educational/Short, color)


Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy

What Frank!

Rating: ***

In a Nutshell:

Cops are huge (but necessary) jerks.


Their wives and children probably do.The short starts with cops shoving a smart-mouthed big-haired teen against a patrol car for a patdown, peppered with threats of arrest. The teen apologizes—for previous unkind remarks I think; the short starts mid-brutality—and the cops let him go.

Later, the teen and his big-haired friends emerge from a movie theater, but his car is gone. His friends urge him to call the cops. The teen would rather go out and look for it himself. When this well-thought-out plan fails, he relents. At the station, who should he meet but the surly, humorless cops who hassled him in the opening scene. They hassle him further, finally telling him that the two-hour delay in reporting his vehicle stolen has all but assured that it’s gone forever. Teen whines and complains until they agree to let him ride in their patrol car while they go out and look.

Someone briefly suggests they get Teen’s dad to sign a waiver (because of ice cream trucks or something) but the next thing we know, they’re cruising the streets, scarfing donuts, harassing passers-by and accosting beautiful women with unfunny jokes about oversized canaries. Late that night, they find the car’s stripped remains in a shady warehouse in the bad part of town.

The thief is still there, too—a kid Teen recognizes from school. Officer Black Guy leaps out of the car to give chase on foot while Officer White Guy pulls the patrol car around the front of the building to head the suspect off. All they find is Officer Black Guy bleeding from a bullet wound to the leg. Teen helps the wounded cop lie still while his partner calls an ambulance.


Think of five seventies cop show clich├ęs off the top of your head, and I guarantee this short will contain at least three or, more likely, four of them. Oh, well. At least the black character doesn't have his own funky incidental music.

It’s lucky for our whiny, easily offended protagonist that there isn’t any other crime happening that day. Apparently the cops just have five to six hour blocks of time to kill. Might as well spend it teaching ungrateful punks the value of community police work.

And speaking of punks, is it just me, or are those cops continuously nasty for no good reason? Maybe it’s because I’m not what you’d call a hardened criminal, but every peace officer I’ve spoken with has always been unfailingly polite, even while lecturing me about taillight maintenance. Why fly off the handle at Teen so often? Granted, he should have been more respectful, but if juvenile backtalk was an arrestable offense, we’d have to divert the state’s entire secondary education budget to the criminal justice system.

A few favorite comments: When our big-haired protagonist can’t find his car, Mike says, “Man, that’s the opposite of groovy.” Near the end, when lots of things have happened, but no one has bothered to organize them into any kind of message or theme, Kevin says, “I’m still not clear on who needs cops.” About that same time we get a patented seventies still image/end credits combo, and Kevin notes, “They forgot to throw their heads back and laugh before the freeze frame.” It’s a jumbled, angry short, unnecessarily so in my opinion, but several of the things that happen in it are mind-bendingly strange and others are hilariously stereotypical. The riffers have a good time pointing this out.