Serpico

Serpico ★★★½

"Who can trust a cop who don't take money?" ~ Tom Keough

This film was based upon the Peter Maas biography of New York police officer Frank Serpico (b. 1936), who went undercover to expose corruption in the force. Director Sidney Lumet's adaptation stars Al Pacino in the titular role, a good cop caught in a bad system. It opens with him being wheeled into a hospital after being shot in the face by a drug dealer and flashes back to his entry into the force, his rise to plain clothes detective and his constant refusal to accept bribes or kickbacks, which alienates him among his fellow officers.

The action here supposedly took place in the 1960s, and Pacino certainly looks the part, with his mustache, bell bottoms, peasant shirts and sunglasses. He was nominated for an Oscar and won the Golden Globe for Best Actor. The film feels a bit dated now, but it's still of interest as something of a time capsule. coming on the heels of "The French Connection" and "The Seven-Ups" and as a precursor to the Lumet/Pacino classic "Dog Day Afternoon."

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