Picks and Pans Review: Alphabet City

updated 05/28/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/28/1984 AT 01:00 AM EDT

A is for atrocious, B is for banal, C is for crummy...The title actually refers to several avenues, designated by letters, in a section of Manhattan favored by addicts, derelicts and struggling artists—but no one quite like the character played by Vincent (Baby, It's You) Spano in this movie. He is already the neighborhood crime boss—and a busy boss at that. In one night he rescues his sister from a prostitution ring, shakes down the owner of a disco, makes a daring escape from the police, murders a bunch of gangsters, ponders torching his parents' apartment building and makes love to his girlfriend. He remembers to bring home disposable diapers for his baby, too. Director Amos Poe, who has an underground reputation of sorts, seems to think an absurd plot, clichéd dialogue and cartoony characters can make a commercial hit. W is for wrong. (R)

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