Sidney LumetItaly / USA130 minutes1973ColourEnglish
No matter his unfailingly eclectic career both before and after, the mid-'70s double shot of Serpico and Dog Day Afternoon established Lumet as a gritty, hard-hitting chronicler of NYC street life. Al Pacino cemented his Godfather-sparked stardom with his performance as Frank Serpico, the real-life New York cop who blew the whistle on widespread corruption in the city's police department. An ace undercover man angling for the gold shield of detective, Serpico faces a crisis of conscience when he discovers that his fellow officers, across multiple precincts, are on the take. Struggling to combat this culture of graft without burning his working-class brothers in blue, Serpico finds himself a pariah on the force, persecuted by his superiors, suspected by his colleagues, and physically threatened by the most hardcore elements of the corrupt ranks. Lumet would return to the morally fraught milieu of police corruption in epic style eight years later with Prince of the City. "A tour de force genre piece" (Don Druker, Chicago Reader).