“Frank Serpico” is a finely etched and fascinating documentary. Directed by Antonino D’Ambrosio, it’s a portrait of the legendary Brooklyn-born Italian-American cop who blew the whistle on New York police corruption in the late ’60s and early ’70s — and, of course, it’s a movie you can hardly watch without comparing it to “Serpico,” the 1973 Sidney Lumet drama, starring Al Pacino in the title role, that became a classic of New Hollywood street grit and moral urgency.
How accurate was “Serpico”? The short answer is: very. It stuck close to the 1973 Peter Maas book, and “Frank Serpico” reveals just how much of Serpico’s story became, through the movie, iconic. As it turns out, the legend and the truth match up nicely.
As you watch “Frank Serpico,” the story comes rushing back, and it now seems all the more amazing, like a Western that really happened.
The idealistic uniformed cop of the early ’60s who recoiled at bribes the moment they were first offered to him.
(Taking money was something he felt allergic to.)
The upstart hippie detective, in his long hair and sandals, who started to live in Greenwich Village — where, as we learn, it took about five minutes for his neighbors to figure out that he was a cop. The giant sheepdog.
The way that everyone called Frank “Paco.” The police brass who listened sympathetically to his complaints about corruption and did next to nothing. His assignment to the brutal narcotics division (his punishment), where his fellow cops all hated him. Continue reading at Variety.