Offence, The (1972)

The Offence (1972), directed by Sidney Lumet.

During interrogation, a policeman beats a suspect to death. In a non-linear presentation we get the whole wrenching story.

It's intense and often hard to watch. We have a movie-myth that cops become calloused and inured to the horrors they see, but what if that is not so? Sean Connery, in one of his best performances, is a tough cop who has seen too much and can't get the images out of his mind. The hunt for a child molester has driven him over the edge and now he is unbalanced and dangerous.

His wife asks him to talk to her about it. After he does she wishes he hadn't.

It gets worse: he is sexually frustrated and has begun to envy the criminals he hates. When he finds the latest victim, an abused little girl, he rescues and comforts her. Objectively it's innocent and even heroic, but the postures and camera angles are suggestive. When the other police arrive and shine lights on him, it's as if he were caught in a violation. He looks guilty.

Fine cast: Ian Bannen as the suspect, Trevor Howard as a police bigwig, and Vivien Merchant, last seen in Alfie (1966).

MGM DVD-R. An Amazon exclusive? I don't know what the film looked like in the theater; the DVD is dark and of only fair quality.

Later: A Kino Blu-ray appeared with a much better image, and I've used it for the thumbnails. No subtitles, and I miss them on this picture.