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Directed byPeter Hyams
Produced byRobert Chartoff
Irwin Winkler
Written byPeter Hyams
StarringElliott Gould
Robert Blake
Allen Garfield
Antonio Fargas
Sid Haig
Michael Lerner
Music byBilly Goldenberg
CinematographyEarl Rath
Edited byJames Mitchell
Release date
  • 1974 (1974)
Running time
91 min.
CountryUnited States

Busting is a 1974 film directed by Peter Hyams, starring Elliott Gould and Robert Blake as Los Angeles police detectives. This film was the main inspiration for the television show Starsky & Hutch, which premiered in 1975.

Plot summary[edit]

Two vice squad detectives investigate a series of crimes, with varying degrees of success. They change their focus to trying to bust LA crime kingpin Carl Rizzo, whom they believe to be responsible for much of the criminal activity they have been investigating.



Robert Chartoff wanted to make another film about vice cops after The New Centurions.[1] They hired Peter Hyams to write and direct one off the back of the success of his TV movie, Goodnight, My Love. "I’d made a TV movie of the week that people had liked, and people started coming after me," he recalled. "The producers Robert Chartoff and Irwin Winkler came to me and said they wanted to do a film about vice cops. I said okay, and spent about six months researching it."[2]

Hyams later said "like a journalist, I went around to New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles and spoke with hookers, pimps, strippers and cops and DAs. Every episode in the film was true."[3]

Elliott Gould was offered the lead role after Hyams saw him on The Dick Cavett Show.[4]

In February 1973 Ron Leibman was cast as Gould's partner.[5] However he was soon fired. Hyams says, "It turned out the contrast between Ron and Elliott Gould was not the same contrast between Robert Blake and Elliott, so it was suggested we go with Robert and I listened."[6] Gould says that while he respected Leibman as an actor it was he who suggested Leibman be replaced. “I just had a sense that I don’t know if he’s the right partner for me."[4]

Filming started in February 1973.[7] The film was shot over 35 days.[6]

"United Artists was a dream studio," said Hyams. "Once they thought the script and the people making the film were good, they really didn't intrude. They were very encouraging, and fabulous for filmmakers."[6]


The film was not a popular success.[3]


The film was criticised for homophobia on the grounds of its depictions of gay characters and the attitudes of the lead characters towards them. Hyams defended this on the ground it was accurate to the milieu depicted.[8]


  1. ^ Shoot-out Marks Grand Central's Hollywood Debut Thomas, Kevin. Los Angeles Times 26 Mar 1973: f1.
  2. ^ "Directors Special: Peter Hyams Film by Film", Empire Magazine accessed 30 July 2014
  3. ^ a b Interview with Peter Hyams by Luke Ford accessed 27 July 2014
  4. ^ a b Hunter, Rob (December 17, 2015). "21 Things We Learned from Elliott Gould's Busting Commentary". Film School Rejects.
  5. ^ MOVIE CALL SHEET: Leibman to Star in 'Busting' Murphy, Mary. Los Angeles Times 6 Feb 1973: f10.
  6. ^ a b c "Interview with Peter Hyams Part One". Money Into Light. August 2016.
  7. ^ Dustin's a Rabbi Now: ALSO OPENING Dustin's a Rabbi Now HAIL, CAESAR! ALIVE AND WELL V' FOR VICE SELECTED SHORTS By A. H. WEILER. New York Times 18 Feb 1973: 179.
  8. ^ Its Director Defends 'Busting': THE MOVIE OPENINGS Movie Mailbag About 'Busting' Hyams, Peter. New York Times 17 Mar 1974: 127.

External links[edit]