"For many viewers of my generation, the definitive Al Pacino performance is the Cuban drug lord Tony Montana in Brian DePalma's 1983 "Scarface" ("Say 'allo to muh lil' friend!"). But for me, the cream of Pacino's crop was in the 1970s, and among his great performances in that decade was in the 1973 movie "Serpico." In this feature directed by Sidney Lumet (who also directed another Pacino film, 1975's "Dog Day Afternoon"), Al plays a cop who joins the force with the best of intentions. He's honest, sincere, and treats criminal suspects impartially--qualities that should enable an officer to advance in his field. Instead, Frank's kindness and humanity make him an object of scorn and contempt among his peers, who engage in shady dealings and suspicious activity. Frank's job ultimately takes a toll on his life, both professionally and romantically, and by the end of the movie, he's transformed from an eager-to-please cop to a jaded officer. The movie is an effective and scathing commentary on police corruption, and it earned Pacino his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor (he was previously nominated for Best Supporting Actor for 1972's "The Godfather"). The DVD offers a decent picture and surround sound for a movie of this age, and the extras include retrospective interviews with the filmmakers. I was disappointed that Pacino isn't featured in any of these interviews, but aside from that, I thought they were overall informative. I'd hesitate to call "Serpico" a classic, but it's a fine and gritty drama that has an award-calibre performance by Pacino."
High Praise? read on...
floydianslipmsn | EDMONTON, Alberta Canada | 07/17/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Seeing this film was the major decision-making factor in my becoming a police officer some 23+ years ago. What greater compliment could I pay?
Assuming that the real Frank Serpico was accurately depicted, my estimation of that man has, if anything, doubled as a result of my years as a cop, trying in my own way to follow in those grand footsteps. Pacino simply nails the walking-on-eggshells, lone-wolf, and frankly courageous aspects of the character. The perfectly realised portrayal of the concommitant self-destructive turmoil which poisons Serpicos personal relationships as an almost inevitable result, should have garnered him with the Best Actor Oscar that year. A young and brilliant Pacino at his stone-best before he started caricaturising himself.Lumet at his zenith. If you love Lumets directing, please seek out the hidden gem "Lovin' Molly" from about circa 1974 starring Blythe Danner, Anthony Hopkins and Beau Bridges. Trust me, it will affect you.'Serpico' has lost none of it's impact despite being close to 30 years old. Please rent it, buy it, or, if you are truly brave, live it.(The score and cinematography are also excellent. And the cardboard box that the videotape comes in makes an excellent source of dietary fibre.)"
Very compelling story.
A. Bouardi | San Antonio, Texas United States | 08/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The story of Frank Serpico, an honest Nyc cop, is one of the most compelling police movies ever made. Al Pacino gives the character a lot of class and cool. Serpico is an easy-going guy with very clear morals about what's right and what's wrong. As he moves from precinct to precinct in dire hope of finding an honest place to work, all he finds are more and more corrupt cops...and it seems to be driving him insane both morally, and insane because the cops aren't comfortable with cops who don't take money. The film does a great job of displaying how the corruption is corrosive and unjust to the people of our country...but esp. interesting is that this wonderfully directed Sidney Lumet film is really very much like a suspense adventure chase...but at a much slower speed in which you can watch as things crumble and go to pot. Pacino plays the role in an understated manner...perhaps due to his knowledge of the real Frank Serpico, or maybe a creative choice. Either way, it's not his usual boisterous way...no crooked looks, no playful grins, etc. You'll forget Pacino is in this character. That Academy is worthless for not handing out an Oscar for this or Scarface or for Godfather I or II...or Dog Day Afternoon or Glengarry Glen Ross."
Pacino's Magnum Opus
Adam Bernstein | Northwest, USA | 01/31/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Serpico...I still remember the original movie billboards with that name in 1973, and it's a classic piece of filmmaking.
Sidney Lumet directed Pacino as the real life hero cop who took on police based evil in the New York Police Department. Pacino gets completely into the role...he becomes Serpico, an honest open-minded hippy cop in the '60s pitted against his corrupt disgusting colleagues and the higher ups who not only allow the corruption, but (as the film hints at) conspire to crush those who try to expose it.
You must see this film uncut, as many of us saw it only on TV with much of the intensity cut out. Of course the film adds some extra drama to it not in the actual Peter Maas biography, just as Alan Parker did in Midnight Express.
Some tidbits: They actually had a year long TV series Serpico in 1975. And watch for the newly finished World Trade Center in the background (during the actual events it wasn't yet finished...not nitpicking...just something of interest).
Finally this is Al Pacino's definitive performance, in my opinion a superior role and film to The Godfather. Especially since he's the good guy in this one."
Serpico Finally in Widescreen
Interplanetary Funksmanship | Vanilla Suburbs, USA | 02/18/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"After years of having to live with the previous VHS release, with its sides cropped and its colors faded, I was more than pleased to finally see "Serpico" as originally intended, in widescreen, and gorgeous Technicolor. The score and audio tracks have also been cleaned up in this Paramount re-release, and it's worth every cent.Sidney Lumet is often thought of as an actors' director, more so than a cinematic genius, but "Serpico" more than delivers in both arenas. Al Pacino's portrayal of the eccentric Frank Serpico -- a NYPD cop of unyielding integrity -- is one of his best roles ever. He's animated, tough and very human in his role, and one can sense that a lot of the real Serpico rubbed off on him. "Serpico" also boasts an excellent supporting cast. Aside from Tony Roberts, who was already well-known from his roles in Woody Allen movies, take a look at these then-unknowns, who would soon either make it big, or be regulars in cop and crime movies: Alan North, Jack Kehoe, Tony Lo Bianco, Richard Foronjy, F. Murray Abraham, Judd Hirsch.Director Lumet is featured in the two "making of" featurettes that are included on the DVD, and it's fascinating hearing his method of shooting and his and producer Martin Bregman's reminisences. I had only wished that Pacino was also included, but since I don't buy DVDs for the bonus material, not a big loss for me.This is one of the best transfers of a preservation print from the 1970s, an era of notoriously quickly deteriorating color negatives. Thank you, Paramount, for giving "Serpico" the TLC it deserved."