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Co-presented by the Directors Guild of America. Made possible by the John H. Mitchell Television Programming Endowment.

A Tribute to Director Robert Butler: Night of the Juggler

A man and a woman standing in a subway car.
April 14, 2024 - 7:00 pm

Admission is free. No advance reservations. Your seat will be assigned to you when you pick up your ticket at the box office. Seats are assigned on a first come, first served basis. The box office opens one hour before the event.

Night of the Juggler

U.S., 1980

Please join the Archive and the Directors Guild of America for our second evening in tribute to director Robert Butler (1927-2023) with a screening of his cult classic feature film Night of the Juggler (1980).  

Noted by Butler as one of his favorite projects in his prolific, nearly half-century-long career, the non-stop, high-adrenaline thriller stars James Brolin (The Amityville Horror) as a quietly ferocious ex-cop hell-bent on rescuing his kidnapped daughter (Abby Bluestone) from a viciously racist psychopath (Tony Award winner, Cliff Gorman). Brolin turns in a breakneck performance of violent physicality as the desperate father, with a decaying New York City and its swirling humanity slinging deadly obstacles at every turn. Featuring scene-stealing turns by a crack character ensemble, including Richard S. Castellano (Clemenza of The Godfather) as a deadpan, unflappable police lieutenant slightly bemused by the bankrupt city (and its citizenry) crumbling before him.

Shot entirely on location in the Big Apple by ace cinematographer Victor J. Kemper (Dog Day Afternoon), Butler’s film plays as if captured by hidden camera, with electric action set pieces literally crashing into the crowded, mean streets of a pre-gentrified Times Square (captured in exquisitely seedy detail, as if for posterity). The film’s starkly naturalistic visual aesthetic set against a hyper-real, amped-up urban chaos offers a sneak preview of Butler’s gritty, ground-breaking work on television’s Hill Street Blues, which had its broadcast premiere on NBC a mere year later.

35mm, color, 101 min. Director: Robert Butler. Screenwriters: William P. McGivern (novel), Bill Norton Sr., Rick Natkin. With: James Brolin, Cliff Gorman. Richard S. Castellano. 

Note: Contains offensive racial and ethnic stereotypes and epithets.