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Serpico (1973)

4.5 out of 5 stars 442 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Serpico (DVD)

Adapted by Waldo Salt and Norman Wexler from Peter Maas's book, Sidney L umet's drama portrays the real-life struggle of an honest Ne w York City cop against a corrupt system. Neophyte officer Frank Serpico (Al Pacino ) is determined not to let his job get in the way of his individuality. Despite his colleagues' leery reactions, he keeps one foot firmly plant ed in the counterculture, sporting a b eard and love beads and living in bohemian Greenwich Village, while he performs his police duties with di spatch. Serpico's peers gen uinely ostracize him, however, when he refus es to take bribes like everybody else. Appalled by the extent of police corruption, Serp ico goes to his superiors, but when he discovers that t hey have ignored his charges, he takes the potentially fatal step of bre aking the blue wall of silence and going public with his exposé. Serpic o's revelations trigger an independent investigation by the Knapp Commis sion, but they also make him a marked man, permanently changing his life . Shot on location with a gritty emphasis on documenta ry-style realism, Serpico presents a city in decay both literally and morally, as everybo dy is in on the take, and the cops and crim inals are almost interchange able. Released in late 1973, after months of revelations of Presidential malfeasance in the breaking Wat ergate scandal, Serpico's true story of bureaucratic depravity touched a cultural nerve, and the film became a hit with both critics and audiences, particularly for Pacino's complex performance as the honest, long-haired whistle-blower. One year after hi s star-mak ing triumph in The Godfather, Pacino was nominated for an Osc ar again, and lost again; Lumet and Pacino would reunite two years late r for another true New York story, Dog Day Afternoon.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Various
  • Directors: Various
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Warner Bros.
  • DVD Release Date: December 3, 2002
  • Run Time: 131 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (442 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00AEBB95K
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,304 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
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.
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By A Customer on July 17, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
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.)
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Format: DVD
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.
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Format: DVD
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.
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