6.4/10
2,102
23 user 21 critic

Street Smart (1987)

A New York journalist lies when his fake story about a pimp describes a real pimp up for murder.

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ON DISC
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 6 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Jonathan Fisher
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Punchy
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Alison Parker
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Leonard Pike
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Ted Avery
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Harriet
Frederick Rolf ...
Joel Davis
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Reggie
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Art Sheffield
Shari Hilton ...
Darlene
Donna Bailey ...
Yvonne
Ed Van Nuys ...
Judge
Daniel Nalbach ...
Singer
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Solo
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Storyline

Magazine reporter Jonathan Fisher, in danger of losing his job, promises to write a factual hard-hitting story of prostitution. But when he tries to get information from the subjects, he is ignored. So he ends up faking a well received story of a pimp, describing his life and crimes. But police think the story is of a real life pimp who is wanted for murder and start pressuring him to reveal the identity of subject in his story, and all he knows. The pimp the police suspect, also thinks the story is about himself, and wants to know what Jonathan knows, and who told him. Written by Brian W Martz <B.Martz@Genie.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Never let the truth ruin a good story. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

Release Date:

20 March 1987 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Armação Perigosa  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$5,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$325,835 (USA) (22 March 1987)

Gross:

$1,119,112 (USA)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(TVC)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Jerry Schatzberg and Christopher Reeve wanted to shoot the film in New York City, where it is set, but The Cannon Group, Inc. insisted the picture be shot in Montreal, Quebec. The move ended up saving the movie between one and two million dollars. See more »

Goofs

Right when Punch and her pimp enter the party, the editor announces them at the door..They cut to a woman on the stairs and Punchies leopard skin leotard clad legs are stretched out behind her. They have a scene on the stairs a few minutes later. See more »

Quotes

Jonathan Fisher: Are you Fast Black?
Fast Black: To some. My momma always called me Leo. Leo Smalls Jr.
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Connections

Referenced in The Cinema Snob: Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
Written by Gerry Goffin, Carole King & Jerry Wexler
Performed by Aretha Franklin
Published by Screen Gems/EMI Music, Inc. (BMI)
Courtesy of Atlantic Recording Corporation
By Arrangement with Warner Specical Products
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Morgan Freeman Is Great As Always, But Story Lacks Crucial Plot Points
20 November 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Street Smart" is a movie not a lot of people appear to remember from the 1980's. What attracted me to the movie was the fact that Morgan Freeman received his first ever Academy Award nomination for his role as a pimp in this film. Freeman hasn't played a role like this before or since, and his best known roles to come after this (including Oscar nominated roles) have consisted of more positive characters with effective leadership skills. Although Freeman doesn't play the type of positive African-American role model here that he is now best known for playing,he gives the character of Leo Smalls, Jr., a.k.a. "Fast Black", a three-dimensional performance that few other actors, black or white, would have been able to pull off. He's not just an intimidating presence, or a guy who wears flashy clothes. In fact, the scenes where he goes back to his apartment, and a poster of Martin Luther King, Jr. can be seen in the background, says volumes about his character.

Without a doubt, Freeman's performance is the best thing about this movie. The rest of the movie is indeed intriguing, but has a few weaknesses which makes it feel a little half-baked. With a running time of 94 minutes, at least 20 minutes of footage could have been added to account for these skimmed-over plot details without throwing off the pace of the film.

The late Christopher Reeve is Jonathan Fisher, a Harvard educated print journalist who is under pressure to write a magazine article in a weekend. He submits an idea to his publisher, seemingly off the top of his head, about 24 hours in the life of a pimp. The story is supposed to be true, but Fisher, feeling intense encumbrance to get a story to his editor, fabricates one instead. To his surprise, the story makes the front page, Fisher becomes a celebrity overnight, and moves up to his own TV news segment.

The trouble comes in when some readers believe the article is about one particular real pimp (Freeman) who happens to be on trial for murder. Among those wary readers is the leading prosecutor for that case. Although the fictional article depicts no murder of any kind, Fisher is still ordered to give the court his notes in the trial, or be subject to a jail sentence.

With the trouble comes a story that keeps the viewers' interests high for what comes next, but plot holes that accompany the story remain unexplained throughout. For instance, we have some of an idea what Reeve's character wrote in the article, but no idea what in the article would be considered circumstantial evidence in a murder trial. Having a series of imaginary montages with Reeve's idea of a pimp as he's writing the story would have cleared that unexplained plot point up easily. Plus, although Reeve's character is Harvard educated, that's all we know about his character. How did he come up with the idea to write about a pimp in the first place? Since we never see him in the inner city until after he submitted the story proposal, that occurrence remains unexplained also. Reeve did a great job playing a guy who tries to maintain control of his life and career, only to have both be in jeopardy as his situation goes over his head. It would have been more helpful to establish some real roots for his character, though, not to mention a moral compass of some kind.

There were some other times where the story felt shaky, but the film had other great qualities. For instance, the inner city in the film looked far more real than other "gritty urban dramas" I've seen over the last few years where the movie sets looked like movie sets and the houses looked too polished. Overall though, the film is worth checking out for Freeman's performance, and probably should be remembered better in Reeve's career than "Superman IV: The Quest For Peace". If anything, this movie showed that Reeve can play a character who has everything under control (Superman) just as well as one who does not.


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