Home Movies by Decade Movies - 1970s Choirboys, The (1977)

Choirboys, The (1977)

This comedy-drama about ten debauched Los Angeles police officers – the “choirboys” of the title – begins with hot-tempered redneck cop Roscoe Rules (Tim McIntire) taunting a potential suicide by shouting “go ahead and jump, bitch!” until she does exactly that.

One storyline involves sensitive cop Baxter Slate (Perry King) who gets his kicks through S&M, while another follows Vietnam vet Sam Lyles (Don Stroud) perpetually on the edge of a complete meltdown.

Meanwhile, nerdy beat cop Harold Bloomguard (James Woods) is enlisted to entrap hookers because he looks like an accountant, and the fat slob named “Spermwhale” (Charles Durning) – just six months from retirement – gets into a grudge match with his overbearing superior officer (George DiCenzo) which gets serious when the lieutenant threatens Spermwhale’s pension.

There’s a cringe-inducing scene of a slow-witted cop sliding under a glass table to “kiss” the nether regions of a female officer sitting on the table, and another where Roscoe Rules wakes up by a pond in LA’s MacArthur Park after passing out from heavy drinking (the cops call their orgiastic drunken off-duty revels “choir practice”).

Roscoe looks down and discovers that a duck is pecking his dick with its beak. All around Roscoe, his fellow officers bust out laughing. Turns out that practical-joke-loving cop Francis Tanaguchi (Clyde Kusatsu) found Roscoe drunk, opened his zipper, and laid a trail of breadcrumbs from the pond to Roscoe’s privates.

The film has more than its share of physical and psychological violence, such as when a mischievous vice cop (Vic Tayback) taunts Roscoe with play-acted homosexual advances, triggering Roscoe to freak out and mercilessly pummel the vice cop until other officers intervene.

The theme of the film seems to be that anything goes if you’re wearing a badge. Pathetically sad moments are played for laughs, idiotically silly scenes are played straight, and the film’s sympathies seem to lie with its most depraved characters.

Ultimately, the boys in blue conspire to cover up the accidental killing of the most sympathetic character in the movie.

Author Joseph Wambaugh – a California policeman for fourteen years – was so incensed with this adaptation of his book, considering it to be such a poor adaption, that he denounced the project in a full-page advertisement in Variety and sued the production, and was successful in having his name removed from the film’s credits.

One of the original lead cast members, Walter McGinn, was killed in a drunk driving accident a few days after shooting began on the movie.

Spermwhale Whalen
Charles Durning
Calvin Motts
Louis Gossett Jr.
Baxter Slate
Perry King
Francis Tanaguchi
Clyde Kusatsu
Spencer Van Moot
Stephen Macht
Roscoe Rules
Tim McIntire
Dean Proust
Randy Quaid
‘Father’ Sartino
Chuck Sacci
Sam Lyles
Don Stroud
Harold Bloomguard
James Woods
Burt Young
Susan Batson
Cheryl Smith
Carolina Moon
Claire Brennen
Louise Lorimer
John Steadman
Maile Souza
Bill Walker
Deputy Chief Riggs
Robert Webber
Fanny Forbes
Jeannie Bell
Nick Yanov
Charles Haid
Kimberly Lyles
Blair Brown
Ora Lee Tingle
Michele Carey
No Balls Hadley
Barbara Rhoades
Jim Davis
Phyllis Davis
Jack DeLeon
Lt. Grimsley
George DiCenzo
David Spielberg
Vic Tayback
Michael Wills
Alex Brown
Howard Curtis
Gary Davis
Jon K. Greene
James M. Halty
James Kingsley
John McKee
James Winburn
Dick Ziker

Robert Aldrich