Plot: A man has been killed in a hit and run accident, with evidence pointing to a young man who claims he is innocent. The young man’s father is determined to keep his son from being convicted of a crime he didn’t commit, so he hires John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) to look into the case. Shaft is one of the best private investigators around and unafraid of local crime thugs, so he is an ideal choice for this task. A little sleuth work leads Shaft to some important information, as the man who was run down happened to be to work at a casino and as it turns out, he was known to skim the take. This would have made him a huge target for those who ran the casino, so Shaft begins to think this accident was no accident. If he wants to uncover the truth, Shaft will have to delve into the sordid casino racket and rub elbows with the crooks he usually collars, but even then, can he crack this case?
Entertainment Value: Hit-Run is the third in the series of Shaft telefilms, with a plot that delivers on the promise of the title. This installment centers in on Shaft and his methods to bust open a casino racket, but reels in some of the seedier elements of street culture as shown in the Shaft films. The second movie in the series, The Killing, opened up that side of the material a little, but here it gets pulled back once again. But Shaft is on the streets again and this feels more like a Shaft narrative than a police procedural, so fans of the franchise will appreciate that. Richard Roundtree has the lead of course, turning in a solid effort, but he isn’t given a lot of chances to shine. A couple of fight scenes allow him to display the tough side of Shaft, but no potential romances or opportunities to use his charm, which is a kind of a let down. Eddie Barth returns once again as Shaft’s contact on the police force, while Tony Curtis shows up to be our villain of sorts, which is a fun inclusion. Curtis has limited screen time, but makes the most of that time with a cold, creepy bad guy performance. The 70s cop show elements are toned down, as this has a sole focus on Shaft, more than his interactions with the police, at least compared to the previous two telefilms in the series. Another solid adventure for Shaft, not on par with the theatrical films of course, but fans should find it a worthwhile watch.
No nakedness. Network television in the 70s wasn’t taking many sexual risks and in any case, this narrative doesn’t mingle Shaft with the ladies. He’s all business this time around, so no time for love. A couple fist fights erupt, which are fun to watch while they last, but no bloodshed in this one. The titular hit and run incident is present, but happens off screen. The dialogue has some bright spots, such as when Shaft critiques the fashion of Lt. Rossi, who dons a loud sports coat to go undercover. He isn’t given a lot of chances to show off Shaft’s famous wit and charm, however. So aside from a one liner here and there, this is passable, but forgettable dialogue. Not much as far as craziness, as this keeps the story on the serious side and lets the crime solving take the spotlight over wild, offbeat moments.
Overall Insanity: 0/10