Police detective Joe Leland (Frank Sinatra) investigates the murder of a homosexual man. While investigating, he discovers links to official corruption in New York City in this drama that delves into a world of sex and dru... more »gs. Based on the Roderick Thorpe« less
Sinatra played a great detective and Jacky Bissett wasn't bad either.
SINATRA'S BEST 1960's DRAMA
Gregory Saffady | Michigan | 03/31/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Stark and brutal for its' time, THE DETECTIVE, was Frank Sinatra's best drama of the 1960's(THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE belongs to Laurence Harvey and Angela Lansbury). This is a story of tortured people keenly told focucusing on wwo main plots: a homosexual murder and the connected subplot involving an urban housing scandal. Both are well woven into a gritty storyline that is stronger that the written work of Roderick Thorp. The most effective visuals: ugly police tactics that lead to the execution of a wrongfully convicted petty criminal, convincingly played by Tony Musante, in one of his first screen roles and the stench of 1960's NYPD corruption. Sinatra is outstanding in the lead role, showing a realm of extreme emotions: dogged, rigged, self righteous, guilt ridden, defeated. Credible support comes from William Windom, Jack Klugman , Robert Duvall as a racist, homophobic cop and Ralph Meeker as a snivler, to whom Sinatra gives a beat down."
Interesting Primarily As A Portrait Of 1960s Homophobia
Gary F. Taylor | Biloxi, MS USA | 02/23/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Based on the 1966 novel by Roderick Thorp, THE DETECTIVE was among the highest grossing films of both 1968 and one of the most popular of Frank Sinatra's film career. At the time it was considered remarkably honest in its portrait of a no-nonsense cop who finds himself trapped between a series of compromises and his own sense of integrity. Today, however, it chiefly notable for its unintentional window onto 1960s homophobia.
Joe Leland (Frank Sinatra) is a third generation New York City police officer who begins the film with two victories: in his private life, he has wooed and won a remarkably beautiful wife, Karen (Lee Remick); in his professional life, he is assigned to a particularly notorious murder case that he quickly solves and which results in a major promotion. But both explode in his face in particularly unsavory ways. Although flawless on the surface, Karen is a distinctly disturbed woman who shatters their marriage through a series of compulsive affairs. And although it seems solved, the case on which Joe's promotion rests may not be nearly as simple as every one thought at the time.
The case involves the brutal murder of a gay man who is found with his head battered in and sexually mutilated--a circumstance that leads Joe and his co-workers to prowl 'known homosexual hangouts' such as gyms and the waterfront. In the process, the film creates a portrait of the gay community that says considerably less about the gay community than the way in which heterosexual America thought of it at the time. The gay men themselves are improbable, being pulled out of group gropes from the back of cargo trucks, flexing muscles in tawny-colored gyms, frequenting bars notable for satin and velvet, and lounging about in silk robes. They come in two basic varities, victim and predator. They are weak and are routinely brutalized by both each other and the police, the latter of which positively delight in knocking them around.
This is not particularly unusual for films of the 1960s and the 1970s; it is much the same portrait presented by such diverse films as ADVISE AND CONSENT and CRUISING. What is unusual is Joe's attitude toward them: unlike his co-workers, he dislikes seeing them mistreated and prefers to see them (and indeed all other suspects) accorded a certain basic respect as human beings. It was a very, very bold stance for a film to take at the time. Even so, it does not counterbalance the portrait itself, which is intrinsically demeaning, or the story, which ultimately pivots on a version of "gay panic"--a heterosexual myth used here with a slight spin.
The chief grace of the film is the performances of Sinatra and Remick. Today Sinatra is best recalled as a singer, but he had some significant acting chops, and he proves more than able to over the shortcomings of the script. Lee Remick, a much-admired actress, is flawlessly cast as the perfidious wife Karen, a woman who superficial qualities conceal an unraveling personality. The supporting cast, which features Jacqueline Bissett, Jack Klugman, and Robert Duvall, is also quite fine. But the script is weak, the story choppy, the film is a shade too glossy for its subject--and its incredibly niave portrait of gay men tends to overpower everything.
All films must be considered in the context of their eras, but even so a good film can transcend its era. THE DETECTIVE doesn't manage to do that: sometimes ridiculous to the point of being amusing, sometimes so grotesque that it becomes a bit embarassing. All the same, it remains interesting primarily because it offers a window on what mainstream Americans of the 1960s thought homosexuals were like. The DVD offers the film in original widescreen format; the transfer, however, is merely acceptable. Recommended primarily to Sinatra fans and film historians interested in Hollywood's frequently off-the-wall portray of gay men.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer"
"Tough, "Gritty" "Retro" and "Square!"
Tony Rome | Florida | 05/29/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Someone wandering into a showing of "The Detective" in 1968, after a movie absence of say a year or so, might well have not beleived what they were seeing or hearing.
The film broke a certain amount of new ground at the time as it depicted somewhat graphically the mutilation murder of a homosexual.....one of Sinatra's first lines of dialouge as New York detective Joe Leland is "penis cut off....fingers shredded....."
Despite the first time utterances of screen obscenities and its dabbling in the worlds of homosexuality and nyphomania, the "Detective" felt somewhat square and retro even at the time of its initial release--could be all those New York cops in snap brim hats running around calling homosexuals "fags" and the Jerry Goldmsith score with that lonely trumpet right out of 40's film-noir--one has to remember this was also the film era of "Easy Rider" and "The Graduate"
Screenwriter Abby Mann puts so many liberal platitudes in Sinatra's mouth, there are times in the film when he sounds more like a crusading social worker than a tough cop--"there are things to fight for, and I can't fight for them while I'm here.."
In any case "The Detective" provided Sinatra with one of his better roles in the 60's although that trademark fedora made him look older than his 52 years at the time, and the supporting cast (especially Lee Remick as Leland's nymphomaniac wife) is fine.
It might also be worth noting that "The Detective" played a part in the breakup of Sinatra's marriage to Mia Farrow.
Farrow was originally scheduled to play the part of Norma Mc Iver but scheduling problems with "Rosemary's Baby" led to the role going to the beautiful Jacqueline Bissett (sporting a Mia-type short hairdo)and to Mia being served with separation papers on the "Rosemary" set.
************************************ There are no special features to speak of on the new Fox DVD except for some trailers for "Tony Rome" and "Lady In Cement," the lightweight prviate eye films Frank made before and after shooting "The Detective"
EddieLove | NYC, USA | 11/30/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Here's one of the pictures where Frank isn't just passing through, but seems to be making an effort. He's good as a tough NYC cop on the way up, if his anti-authority attitudes and compassion for gays and minorities don't sideline him. This is similar to Madigan, and like that movie we get too much of the cop's home life as Frank ruminates on his marriage to nyphomanical Lee Remick. She's effective in her big scene, but a cloying distraction elsewhere. The rest of the cast is pretty solid with Frank squaring off with Ralph Meeker, Lloyd Bochner and a young Robert Duvall as a gay-bashing thug on the force. These scenes are the picture's coolest as Frank matter-of-factly shoots down the other characters' homophobia. He's got his "own bag. " These scene's are way ahead of their time and make pictures like Cruising made years later seem antique by comparison. (They also may be why this picture has fallen by the wayside.)"
No Nonsense, gritty acting. Really impressed....
Jerry C. Lewey | Everywhere | 08/06/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"THE DETECTIVE is apart of those movies from the late sixties that are the beginning of modern movie making. I had been wanting to see this for a long time for its taboo subject matter. At least taboo for the times. To see this movie because you might think it is a "gay" movie and to see the shock value is wrong. This movie is much more than that. It is Frank Sinatra at his best. He's a little aged, but still one of the coolest cats ever.
I was impressed with the way Sinatra's character was played. He was so calm and cool under pressure. The best example is the interrogation of the "insane" gay man. The other cops were trying to scare it out of him but Sinatra told everyone to leave and he took care of it his way, calm and cool. Just like Sinatra was. The movie was even able to weave in a love story between Sinatra and his girlfriend/wife. They are going through rough times, but by the end of the movie, you assume they are going to get back together.
Another great part of THE DETECTIVE is the flashbacks and the final scene that is narrated by an important character. The flashbacks are great for the back story on Sinatra's wife and their problems.
The only negative about the movie is for just a few minutes I remember thinking this should have been cut out or re-edited. But it's not a big problem. Also, the gay men are portrayed incorrectly, but that was the public opinion then, so that's the route they took. Overall, a great, great film that I plan to watch again soon."