Detective Tony Church is forced to retire and become a store rent-a-cop when his drug sting operation comes to a tragic end by a masked killer. He joins forces with a prostitute, the only one able to identify the killer, to bring him to justice.
When call-girl Della gets caught in the middle of a drug bust at a hotel where she was meeting a trick, she is held hostage by a robber that busted in on the drug agents and the drug dealers. She gets rescued by vice cop Church who is accused of staging the aborted bust. Ex-ballplayer turned drug dealer Roger is in tight with corrupt vice cops and their superiors And the fireworks start popping.
With some of the most laughably bad dialog I've ever heard in a big screen film, this is perhaps the nadir in the career of everybody involved. Even Liza Minnelli's most sympathetic fans will be tempted to laugh out loud as she prepares to visit a client looking as she just got off stage at the Palace Theater. Of course, she's not a cabaret or concert performer; She's involved in the world's oldest profession, and I'm not talking about carpentry. Liza talks non-stop in this, and her character of Della (as in street walker) is dumber than a box of her signature hair style. If that doesn't give away who she is here, that's really enough to make you feel sorry for her, because it is obvious that she is being paid to humiliate herself. When Liza starts mentioning Broadway shows she was in, all gay men may be in camp heaven, but the rest of the audience is cringing. To add into the camp, Dionne Warwick is tossed in a pointless cameo as Liza's madame.
There's a very violent opening where Liza's hooker goes to see her client and ends up at the wrong door, then is shot at and later stabbed. Certainly no lucky lady in this one, reunited with both Burt Reynolds and Robby Benson from that 1975 comedy that was critically panned but made a small profit. This is a complete disaster, and I'm sure that if Gene Hackman was offered a part in this, he was glad he turned it down after reading the reviews. Burt is the fired cop who protects Liza after her attack, and Benson and Bernie Casey are his old pals who aide him to keep Liza safe. The setting here is Chicago, although I bet most of the location footage was stock Chicago shots with Burt and Liza tossed in. The funniest moment has Liza walking nervously through a very "Studio 54" like dance club surrounded by every element of society you can imagine. I bet the extras on this set have dozens of stories to tell!
There are some films that you have to watch through to realize how bad they are and others which tell you from the start. "Rent a Cop" is one of the later, perhaps not a disaster for Burt's career, having moments that just reek of ludicrousness. Along with the unfairly maligned "Arthur II", this practically killed Liza's film career. She is not at all believable as a hooker like Jane Fonda was in "Klute", Kathleen Turner was in "Crime of Passion", and fellow musical diva Barbra Streisand was in "Nuts", released at the same time as this. Liza was of course going through all sorts of problems, and seems at times to talk nonstop continuously to work through them. As a cult fan of "Lucky Lady", I can say that it has great moments in spite of being mediocre, but after seeing (and hearing) Liza in this, I wish I could change the title to "Mute Lady". Didja know that, contrary to popular belief (and the Razzies), Liza-with-a-Z actually received rave reviews from Variety and the NEW YORK TIMES (!) for her performance in this otherwise utterly ordinary cop thriller. She's actually very funny in it, and Reynolds has his moments as well. There is an absolutely hysterical scene near the beginning with Burt as a security guard disguised as Santa in a department store, bantering with his new boss, an overly officious matron yammering about his failure to scrutinize his "policy manual." 646f9e108c
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