Serpico (1973)

Serpico (1973), directed by Sidney Lumet.

Based on a true story, the career of a policeman from uniformed patrolman through undercover and into narcotics, and his efforts as an informant trying, with little success, to expose police corruption. It begins near the end with Serpico shot and being rushed to the hospital. "Did a cop shoot him?" No one would be surprised.

We see some amount of police work: running, tackling, shooting, but most of the story is Serpico's efforts to find a place where he can be a cop without participating in corrupt practices. Obviously none of his coworkers trust him and it causes a lot of tension. We have a lot of time with the neighborhood and his girlfriends.

He's brave but also irritating: a martyr always complaining about being the only honest cop in the city. He lashes out at the people close to him. Police corruption stories have become more common since then and it was more hard-hitting at the time.

Lumet was brought in at the last moment, but it looks just like his other streets of NY pictures of the 1970s: real people and locations, everything stressed and broken down. Pacino's face, hair and beard tend to dominate all the close ups.

Brief nudity. I see people complaining about the score. It's a nice mixture of old-world folk music (think The Godfather (1972)) and 70s police action.