Director: Sidney Lumet
Duration: 130 minutes (US)
For those who may have gawped in awe at the follicle flamboyance on display in American Hustle (2013), you could do worse than to look to 1973 classic, Serpico, for an authentic hit of the real hair deal. In fact, it is rather surprising that Pacino’s mane and ‘tache didn’t get an Oscar nod all of its own in 1974 in the Best Supporting category or suchlike. It is rather impressive.
Quips aside, this is a film that could easily get lost amongst the other signpost Pacino pictures, like Scarface (1983) or the Godfather trilogy (1972-1990). And that would be a shame. This is rightly regarded as something of a wonder.
Based on the true story of Frank Serpico’s unravelling of police corruption within the force in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it is an engrossing document of both style and substance.
It travels down a similar path as that of the Hoffman/Redford vehicle All The Presidents Men (1976), but with a stronger narrative grip. There is more coherence here and something of a spare and economical use of cinematography. Pacino reigns in his trademark bellow for intermittent explosions instead, and this renders his performance all the more powerful.
Director Sidney Lumet and Al Pacino would resume their working partnership a mere 2 years later in another true story picture. This time, it would be Dog Day Afternoon (1975). Theirs was a brief but highly productive collaboration. Both films aver on the side of exceptional.
As for Serpico, if you haven’t seen it, it is well worth your time. It represents a classic slice of 70s American cinema and, should you be so inclined, it would make a good double bill with something like Mean Streets (1973). Finally, as for the Blu-Ray transfer, the picture is glossed nicely without taking away too much from the grimy tarnish that is befitting for a story of this era and of this nature.
To buy the Masters of Cinema release of Serpico, you can click the link here.
Here is the trailer: