Serpico is a cop in the 1960s-early 1970s. Unlike all his colleagues, he refuses a share of the money that the cops routinely extort from local criminals. Nobody wants to work with Serpico, and he's in constant danger of being placed in life threatening positions by his "partners". Nothing seems to get done even when he goes to the highest of authorities. Despite the dangers he finds himself in, he still refuses to 'go with the flow', in the hope that one day, the truth will be known.Written by
The film was scheduled to open by Christmas. That left 4-1/2 months for shooting, editing, and mixing - an "insanely short time" in Sidney Lumet's estimation. Therefore, the editing had to take place during filming. Without the luxury of time, it was necessary to finish shooting a scene and rush it to editor Dede Allen, who had to cut the footage within 48 hours and have it ready for delivery to the sound department. See more »
The bathtub scene starts with a wide shot showing Serpico and Leslie. You can see a necklace clasp and chain on her right shoulder. In the closeup shots, it's gone. See more »
There is one Australian VHS version released through RCA Columbia Pictures Hoyts Home Video in the 1980s which had all profanity overdubbed with tamer language, as well as some scenes of sexuality/nudity. Subsequent releases on DVD are uncensored. See more »
Unquestionably one of the major films of the 70's dealing with a big theme (police corruption) and with some major talents at close to the top of their game throughout. Sydney Lumet spares us little in this gritty urban drama using almost fly-on-the-wall documentary technique to involve the viewer in the action and stand us directly alongside Pacino as crusading street-wise cop Frank Serpico. Serpico's naive idealism is at first bruised by what at first seems casual freeloading by almost everyone of his new colleagues on the force but which turns to literally a battering as he comes to appreciate just how endemic the inside corruption actually is. Lumet plants us firmly on location in contemporary downtown NY with its rundown apartment blocks, graffiti-strewn streets and lowlife criminal element (and that's just the police!) As for Serpico, we feel his frustration as he cracks under the pressure, his relationship with his girlfriend poisoned as he fails to make the powers-that-be sit up and address what to all intents and purposes is standard behaviour. It takes a great acting performance to carry the viewer all the way through this lonely journey, even when the character himself becomes at times obnoxious and unfeeling to his (few) supporters; thankfully Pacino gives a performance the real-life Serpico deserved. Only very occasionally lapsing into the "hoo-ha" overacting style that reached its nadir in "Scent Of A Woman", Pacino plays it cool and tight throughout, always wary, always looking over his shoulder, playing it for real. If one is slightly sceptical if not critical of his sometimes ridiculous-looking "Harry Hippy" persona, I think it can be forgiven as being of its time. The ensemble support acting is top-drawer too, everyone is believable as indeed they need to be to make this film work but particular praise should go to Barbara Eda-Young as his put-upon girlfriend and Tony Roberts, free of Woody Allen for once, as his main ally. It's not hard to see the prototypes here for the new generation cutting-egde TV shows which were soon to follow such as Kojak and particularly Hill Street Blues, but that's the least of this film's achievements. In summary then, this excellent film is proof that it's possible for Hollywood to address a potentially unpopular, certainly uncomfortable serious subject, make its point and still entertain.
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