Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Serpico (1973)

Serpico (1973)
Rated R
Starring: Al Pacino, Jack Kehoe, Tony Roberts, F. Murray Abraham
Directed by: Sidney Lumet
Tagline: Many of his fellow officers considered him the most dangerous man alive – An honest cop.
Running time: 130 Minutes

Quick summary (from IMDB): The true story about an honest New York cop who blew the whistle on rampant corruption in the force only to have his comrades turn against him.

Has there been a director with a better four year span than Sidney Lumet from 1973-1976? He started with Serpico in ’73, followed that up with A Dog Day Afternoon in ’75 and finished it up with Network in ’76. There probably have been better runs by other directors, but it’s a pretty impressive little stretch.

After having spent years knowing the basic story of Serpico from various pop culture references, I decided to finally sit down and watch it. Featuring vintage ‘70’s Al Pacino, and some awesome facial hair, Serpico is a solid crime thriller/drama and was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actor for Pacino (he lost to Jack Lemmon for Save the Tiger) and Best Screenplay (losing to The Exorcist).

Al Pacino was at his best in the mid ‘70’s: the two good Godfather films, A Dog Day Afternoon, and Serpico. He embodied the kind of hippy, independent honest cop and you could feel that he really was an honest man. He also ran the gauntlet in terms of facial hair, starting clean shaven as a rookie officer, moving up to a sweet Fu Manchu mustache, before finally settling on the full beard he’s rocking in the poster. It’s some of the finest facial hair to ever be captured on film.

Pacino was, no doubt, the focal point of the movie, and the most well-known (to me anyways) actor in the cast. There were some others that I recognized: Tony Roberts, F. Murray Abraham, M. Emmett Walsh, and Judd Hirsch (in an uncredited, bit part).

Serpico is a 70’s movie, through and through, and it probably wouldn’t work as well, or would be a completely different movie if made today. But as it is, it absolutely works and is solidly entertaining.

4 out of 5 stars

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