Theme Song: None
Interesting Dated References: Pool, Pool Halls, Women with Class.
Best Line: “Don’t tell me anything about tits, man.” Tits are overrated in case you didn’t know.
Social Context: Being a buddy flick, there is obviously no social context. Buddies don’t usually do things that have any social context, unless double-teaming a hooker is a social context, then in that case buddies do that shit a lot. That doesn’t happen in this movie, though. Sorry.
Summary: Look, I’m not shoving James Coburn down your throat, here. He just happens to be the star of two Betamax within a few weeks of each other. So don’t go getting on a high horse about how you think I have an “agenda” or something.
In The Baltimore Bullet, Coburn plays the whimsical pool hustler Nick Casey (aka The Baltimore Bullet). The movie centers on Coburn and his partner Billie Joe as they try to earn enough money to play against The Deacon, played by Omar Sharif. The Deacon is the top pool player in all of the country. The movie opens and we see Coburn playing for money and getting chased out of a club. No big deal.
Coburn enters another bar with a chick named Sugar and proceeds to erotically show her how to handle a pool cue. Coburn must have totally been into this scene because this chick’s rack is insane and hanging out all over the place. I mean really. It gets super awkward for a moment because Coburn’s teeth look huge as he convinces Sugar that he and his partner are world famous. Between his huge teeth and her huge cleavage I feel like I’m watching one of those dirty cartoons from the 70s. Oh, I forgot to tell you that in there somewhere was a cut scene where we see Billie Joe at a Health/Racquet Club that serves beer. I once was a member at a gym that has racquet ball facilities, but they did’t serve beer. Perhaps back in the 80s these types of places had more a “country club” atmosphere. My gym thought it was a fucking country club though because it tries to charge me $90 a month. What a bunch of assholes.
Ok, so Coburn and Billie Joe travel to New Orleans to compete with The Deacon. Along the way they hustle small town yokels, talk about breasts, play pinball, and try to get laid. The Baltimore Bullet sort of becomes a road movie/buddy flick as the elder Coburn interacts with his young and out of control partner. It becomes apparent Billie Joe has a problem with losing at poker, yet he insists on playing it along the way. He also seems fixated on getting laid and placing bets on getting laid. This makes for some funny interaction with Coburn, and provides necessary comic relief. I don’t want to have to say it again, but Coburn is awesome. Remember how he died and one of his last roles was in Affliction? That was awesome. If you don’t like James Coburn, it’s probably because you are a hipster elitist who is constantly upset because your mustache isn’t landing you as many chicks as Coburn got every single day of his life. And he clearly has huge teeth, yet there you sit alone.
Ok, so as these travels go on, the duo keeps getting into more and more ridiculous situations. The most distracting of which is their adventure in a fun house with blaxploitation vet Calvin Lockhart as a cocaine-sniffing woman named Snow White. This whole sequence is really confusing and was probably just added because someone’s uncle owned a funhouse the filmmakers could film in for free. Basically, Billie Joe is lured into the place and finds a poker match. He wins a bunch of money, but then is taken hostage. The always agile Coburn uses his old man chest to free him and get the money from Snow White. Oh and along the way they pick up a female country singer.
So, the duo plus the country singer arrive at the big tournament to see who will face The Deacon. Of course it winds up being a showdown between Coburn and Billie Joe. This has to be one of the longest “final match” sequences since the unedited directors cut of Over The Top. With a showdown match clocking in at over 15 minutes, that’s a good chunk when you consider the length of the film is 100 minutes. The match is padded with the shitty subplots. One of the nice things about this flick is you actually see Coburn and Billie Joe making the shots. I would imagine they had the shots expertly set up and probably did several dozen takes, but it helps bring the movie up a notch.
Ok, so the FBI invades the tournament and the movie comes dangerously close to slapstick territory. The Deacon shows up after the cops leave and he and Coburn have a final showdown. Naturally, Coburn wins and the movie ends to the sound of really irritating saxophone solos that people pretend to like but no one actually does.
Poster and Box Art: The original theatrical poster for The Baltimore Bullet features awesome Jack Davis-style artwork. I can’t tell for certain if it is or not because there’s no signature, but I’m almost certain. It showcases each key character in an interesting way and makes sure to put Coburn’s toothy grin right up front. I found a few other posters for this movie, including a European version:
This is a relatively uneventful poster that really does nothing to attract our attention. Unless your attention is attracted to drawings of James Coburn with a woman bent over in a doggie style position. If this is what attracts your attention, I have some similar drawings of James Coburn in various sexual positions available for purchase. I also found two pretty nice versions of the poster which I thought were Spanish but could be Italian:
This is a real nice example of the tail-end of illustrated movie posters. Italy was always good for painted posters well into the 80s. This was the last great gasp of the movie poster before computers started to destroy everything that was good about this world. I also found an Asian VHS case that I’m not even going to bother showing
Availability: There is no US DVD of The Baltimore Bullet available. I think you can get a VHS though.