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Saturday, May 31, 2008

SERPICO (1973)

With uncredited bits from kids like Judd Hirsh, F. Murray Abraham, Kenneth McMillan, Tony Lo Bianco, et al., the NYC talent pool circa ‘73 must have been amazing. And Sidney Lumet’s muckraking pic gives each of them a moment to grab your attention among the superb male supporting cast. Playing the last honest cop in NYC (and the first hip one), Al Pacino tears the room apart and gets to preen in a bewildering series of undercover get-ups. Look for a preppie look in a locker room where he "does" Dustin Hoffman, and thank your lucky stars Dusty didn’t cop this role. If Waldo Salt’s script structure now seems a bit flat-footed, and Serpico’s girlfriends don’t register sharply, it’s a minor glitch on this unusually well-observed, scary/funny fact-based story. Lumet and Co. got it out within a year of the actual events. (No Hollywood development hell on this one.)

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