from  on December 16, 1973 · 507
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Sunday, December 16, 1973
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LOS ANGELES TIMES DECEMBER 16, 1973 mmm s - 'Serpico': Chronicle of a Cop Off the Take BY CHARLES CHAMPLIN Frank Serpico was a New York policeman who became appalled at the .corruption he found among the finest, from the free lunches at greasy spoons to the payoffs from gamblers running into thousands a month to the willful blindness of the departmental brass when he tried to point out that the dryrot was not a blotch but an epidemic. . Already a marked man when the official channels turned into cul-de-sacs, he took his talc to the New York Times and was subsequently shot , for his pains evidently set up by some fellow plainclothcsmen during a narcotics bust. But his revelations forced the creation of a blue-ribbon group., the Knapp Commission, which heard him out and made some changes. Still a- marked man, Serpico now lives, as obscurely as he can, in Switzerland. His story,' more startling than most detective fiction, made a best-selling book by Peter Maas. It has now made one of the year's best-crafted and most engrossing and disturbing movies. "Serpico," Sidney Lumet's surest work since . "The Pawnbroker," has as its centerpiece a portrayal by Al Paci-no which confirms his claims, established in "Panic in Needle Park" and "The Godfather," to be considered one of the handful of genuine star actors in American Films. As he did in "The Godfather," Pacino lets us watch a man undergoing changes from the innocent and idealistic but not really naive rookie grad? uating from the Police Academy and almost instantly getting his first taste of minor graft, the on-the-cuff lunch, to the man leading a double life partly in a Greenwich Village pad and partly as a maverick cop disguised as one kind of freak or another, and finally 11 years later to the embittered, embattled loner whose sin is that he refused to take his cut of the precinct bagmen's monthly collections. The script by Waldo Salt ("Midnight Cowboy") and Norman Wexler sus-' tains an almost documentary reality. through the faultlessly-caught dialog and through the whole long, swift mosaic of scenes minor and major. Lumet and cinematpgrapher Arthur J. Ornitz place the huge cast (more than 100 speaking parts) and "the considerable chronology exactly within the all-too-real world of the New York Cop the ancient, shabby precinct houses, the bars and lunch counters, the mean streets of the Bronx and Brooklyn, the dark, dank, rat-infested tenements. Through it all Pacino as Serpico moves not as an angry crusader but as a bright, hip son of Italian immigrants who sees the department as a long step Please Turn to Page 4S What Went Right for LA. Theater in '73 BY DAN SULLIVAN What kind of a year was it for Los Angeles theater? A year with the usual number of- empty promises and botched deliveries, some of which we'll note next week in our annual Bah Humbug column. But also a year when a lot of good things happened, such as: "Cyrano de Bergerac." Probably the most satisfying show that CTGAhmanson has ever produced, a robust interpretation of a big romantic play ideally suited for this problematic (for straight drama) house. One had wondered if Richard Chamberlain's ' Cyrano would cut as well as bleed. In fact, Chamberlain was lithe, vivid, funnyand if there were some thin spots in his rhetoric on opening night, they had been seeded with meaning by closing. I also admired Joan Van Ark's Roxane, spice where you usually get sugar. Joseph Hardy's direction was lucid and balanced; Lewis Brown's costumes had a patina that made you think of old brass -cornered trunks. A tremendous hit that could have run for weeks longer. "Ia the Works," CTGTaper's floating new-play festival, an audacious and exhausting experiment in three-track theater that worked even when it didn't work. (As when all those people stomped out of Harvey Perr's "Afternoon Tea," creating a theater piece of their own.) Besides introducing 10 new plays and-a great variety of talented new people playwrights like Michael Weller, directors like John Dennis, actors like Michael Christofer "In the Works" got the Taper out of the Music Center and into the city at large. Indeed its most impressive discovery may have been that of Stage B, 20th Century-Fox Studios, a space of a thousand shapes that CTGTaper would do well to borrow more often. The Los Angeles Free Shakespeare r H sMi. aw ; I frVf ... Joan Van Ark, Richard Chamberlin in "Cyrano" o hit that could have run weeks longer. Times photo by Larry Bessel Festival. The idea had been kicking around for years. This summer, at the Pilgrimage Theater, it finally happened. The production "As You Like It" with Penny Fuller and Kristoffer Tabbri was just fair. But the audiences came and liked what they saw. Having done it first, producer Michael Dewell has his chance next summer to do it right. Greater lead-time, firmer financing and the hiring of Duncan Ross of the Seattle Repertory Theater to direct, should help. ' "Bus Stop." A few months after the suicide of William Inge, the year's Sad: dest event, we had an immaculate re-" vival of his funniest play at the tiny MET Theater. This production and the Onion Company's "A View From the' Bridge" were hopeful signs that our smaller houses are ready to give their audiences truly professional theater, at a price the Music Center can't match (and with an intimacy it can't match either). Since there are signs to the contrary as well, we're not going on a limb about this, but we are looking forward to the MET's "Dark at the Top of the Stairs." The American Film Theater. Not. strictly speaking, theater at all. Films of plays, rather and not all as gripping as the first one, "The Iceman Cometh." But the financial success of the series should show local theaters that there is indeed an appetite here for serious plays presented with artistry and taste. ("And stars," somebody But O'Neill and Pinter and Please Turn to Page 50 Index on Page 31 - Mi kef Nichols: V Dolphin Among Directors BY JOSEPH GELMIS Mike Nichols travels the Gulf Stream currents of Show Biz w ith congenial companions. To Northampton, Mass., for "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" To Los Angeles for "The Graduate." To Guay-mas, Mex., and to Rome for "Catch-'22." To Vancouver, B.C., for "Carnal Knowledge." Earlier this year, he was wintering in Nassau and Abaco in the Bahamas for "The Day of the Dolphin." With him. were his regulars. Film editor' Sam O'Steen. Art director Dick Syl-bert. Nichols' chef, Roberto, was brought down from the Connecticut farm to be company cook. Screenwriter Buck Henry visited for a while but did no work at all on rewrites because of the Writers Guild strike. For laughs, he did the voice of Buck, the dolphin hero who speaks halting English. Mike Nichols has the schooling in-, stinct and the work ethics of a dolphin. It's altogether fitting therefore that his new movie is about experimental : communication with these intelligent creatures who have evolved a civilized community based on graceful and profitable play. "Let's assume that dolphins are as intelligent as people sometimes think," he says. "They wouldn't have to be concerned with technology or civilization as we conceive it. They'd be closer to what some young people now are sort of trying for: a continuous state of bliss, group experiences with equals, a community where there is no distinction between work and play." The hard candy that Mike likes wajs stashed in glass jars in his trailer. Roberto had laid in a supply of Mike's favorite Pecan Log candy bars and assorted ice cream flavors in the com-Plcase Turn to Page 39

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