Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois on February 8, 1974 · 31
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Chicago Tribune from Chicago, Illinois · 31

Chicago, Illinois
Issue Date:
Friday, February 8, 1974
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(Dticajjo Tribune Friday, February 8, 1974 Section 2 Movie review Corruption: Persons making choices . . . HIS INITIAL MISTAKE Is a small one. The first day on his beat, rookie policeman Frank Serpico Al Pacino orders a roast beef sandwich for lunch whereas his more experienced partner, following the cafeteria owner's suggestion, selects the daily special. Explains the veteran cop to Serpico: "You oughtta take what Charlie gives you; it's free. We give him a break on double-parking his delivery trucks." Serpico's next mistake is not a small one. The first day on his second beat he had requested transfer because of incompatibility with a superior Serpico refuses to accept a $300 bribe. Instead, he tells a high-ranking detective about it and turns the cash over to his sergeant. The sergeant is astounded. Based on the real-life experiences of an extraordinary New York City policeman, "Serpico" recounts the story of one cop who tried to buck a system, apparently department-wide, of kickbacks and extortion. In 1970, the real Frank Serpico's testimony before a grand jury resulted eventually in the controversial Knapp Commission investigation into the New York City Police Department, which, in turn, resulted in mass departmental resignations and the establishment of the requirement that a police official be accountable for the actions of his subordinates. IN THE MOVIES of the late '30s and early '40s, the honest cop or politician suffers professional setbacks and, perhaps, a busted love-affair, but as sure as Mr. Smith went to Washington, the final fade-out inevitably finds our hero about to be married and assured of a bright future in a rejuvenated police department or legislative body. In 1974, however, with police departments taking lie detector tests and heads of state being forced to declare themselves not to be crooks, you don't end a movie about corruption opti-.mistically. "Serpico" ends as it begins with Frank Serpico suffering from a bullet wound in his head that may very well have been set up by the members of his own department. People ...but 'Serpico' cops sayfilmers were choosy too New York IS "SERPICO" FOR REAL? Ever since the film opened in New York last December, debates have been raging over the way the movie portrays events that were once very real to New Yorkers. This week, the current police commissioner, New York's fourth since Serpico's tale of police corruption hit the papers in 1970, attacked the film. "It tends to imply that the subject was the only honest man in the department," said Police Commissioner Michael Codd. He wasn't the first to voice that opinion. And some of those complaining were people who say they helped Serpico expose police corruption, only to find themselves portrayed in the films as less than helpful, perhaps even dishonest. "Serpico" is not a pleasant film. More than any film to date, it nails down a pattern of corrupt human behavior and never backs off. Curiously, the film's singularity of purpose is both its principal strength and weakness. To the degree that Serpico is overwhelmed by his fellow police officers at all levels, the film occasionally loses the perspective that corruption begins and ends with individuals making active and passive decisions about their conduct. W s. i K i ' Ilk- ,,,., J - Al Pacino: Bringing an extra dimension of sympathy to "Serpico." THE FILM'S PRODUCER, Martin Bregman, has this defense for all attacks: "It's not a documentary. It's only a movie." This much is certain: A policeman named . Frank Serpico, known for a certain eccentricity of lifestyle and costume, did refuse to accept payoffs as a member of the police department. When he tried to get his superiors to do something about it, they ignored him. He then enlisted the aid of a fellow policeman, David Durk, who had connections at City Hall. The two of them took their case to a mayoral assistant, who failed to act. Eventually, Serpico, Durk, and a third policeman went to the New York Times. The result was a series of articles in April, 1970, that led to appointment of a special investigating com- THE FIRST EXAMPLE of corruption In "Sit-pico," that scene in the cafeteria, works well because it clearly identifies the trade-offs being made. However, when "Serpico" gets rolling into six-figure pay-offs to prevent narcotics arrests, when the department cover-up begins to get heavy and involve the Mayor and the Police Commissioner against the New York Times, "Serpico" returns to the romantic Hollywood drama of the '40s, to the "big name" forces of good and evil. In TRIBUNE MINIREVIEW Honesty: dangerous policy 'a "SERPICO" Dlrectad bit Sldnty Lunwt, icmnplay by Waldo. Salt and Norman Wixlir basad en th book by Patar Maai, ahototrapriiif by Afhur J. Ornlti, muile by Bob James, produced by Martin Breomin, a Paramount raltast it thi Oilcan Tboattr. Rated R. Sarplco Sldnay Grttn Tom Kaouin Inspector McClala Laurie Leslie Bob Blair Jerry Barman THI CAST Al Paclne John Randolph Jack Kttwe Bill McGuire Barbara Eda-Youne Cornelia Sharps Tony Robert Lewis J. Stadlen other words, "Serpico" is at its realistic best when its action takes place at the precinct level. Al Pacino, currently filming the continuing saga of Michael Corleone in "The Godfather Part II," works well at every level. Pacino is such a likeable sort he was likeable even while shutting the door on his new wife at the end of !'The Godfather" that he brings an extra dimension of sympathy to the Serpico character. Not only do we mourn for Serpico because he is the underdog and because of what his victimization says about our criminal justice system, but we also mourn because Frank Serpico, as portrayed by Pacino, is a good guy. Naive, for sure but good. Gene Siskel mission, public hearings, and the resignation of the police commissioner. However, before the hearings were held, Serpico, on duty with a narcotics unit, was shot in the face in the presence of two other policemen, fellow officers. What has been bothering the real participants in all of this is the interpretation of the events by Sidney Lumet, the director. BACKING UP HIS and Bregman's contention that it's only a movie is the film's use of different names for the major characters only Serpico and Mayor Lindsay retain their actual identities. However, the film was shot in the streets of New York, in the New York Times newsroom, and in real police stations; it gives the sort of documentary feeling that the films of Costa-Gav-ras have. In films such as "State of Siege," it is obvious the director is trying to make a political state-men, and the viewer is thus forewarned. But what harm does "Serpico" do? THE MOST SERIOUS criticism of the film centers on the portrayal of David Durk, the policeman who befriended Serpico and urged him to report what he saw. In the film, he is called Bob Blair and portrayed by Tony Roberts, who admits that "I tried to paint him more favorably, but he did get the short end of the stick." Blair seems to be an Ivy League opportunist and manipulator who uses Serpico to get ahead. What seems to have happened is that Serpico and Durk, once close friends, did have a falling out some time after the case ended and while Peter Maas was writing the book "Serpico," on which the film is based. "Durk was by far a bigger hero than Serpico Continued on page 2 By Jo Kitchen My friends say I tea born ti lth a credit card in my hand. I don I think it happened -my Mission for purchasing, this is until got my first nickel, ran to the Ittctrt candy store, and discovered the joys of comparison shopping. Things haven't changed much over the years. The fact is , . . chopping is definitely my bag. Even if I don't have the cash (a not-infre(pient state of affairs), I just like to get out there and look, try on clothes, dig thru sale bins, discover new stores. I'm one of the people u ho vieic nre feet ivilh a sense of accomplishment. It is uith this in mind that If'eckend begins The Shopping Bag, a column expressing a reiy personal opinion of shopping. In this and columns to come you'll read about places one spendthrift finds special for the merchandise, the decor, the owners, the price, or a combination thereof. You might think they're special, too. A Patching tilings uj Five years ago Nicki Waldo whipped up nome patchwork gifts to give to friends. Everyone agreed tliey were too pretty to live away so she decid ed to open a shop and The Patch Work was horn. first as a word-of-nioiith operation out of her apartment, inside, tit in snug simp is like pillows anil (juiits and lies and toys, all done in a cheery assemblage, of patches and appliities in calico, chintz and gingham.' 'J'oasty puff quilts are 'a hargain at for twin si.e $22." for king size). Carry llient right out of the shop, or haw one made up in your own color scheme. Nieki alo ha an as-oriment of patchwork animals, a Noah's Arc of delights from ?.'! to .?'!. And specially for Valentine's day: heart-shaped pillows, pal -hv.oi-'.nl and milled and a steal al ?6 to S20. The Patch Works, 1'66 I Old Mcllenry Rd., Long drove, 631-D1W. iow goii as a full-fledged boutique. Slopping hack to grandma's time. There are Low-caloric valentines I'nahashedlv romanti Valentines with the a peal of yesterday, (iupids, heart-filled gardens and swans invoke the Victorian era and an updated Catsby milieu. At 75 cents they are cheaper e n""""" than candy and much less Honing. And so pretty they can be nice-Iv framed. Kroch's fc Brentano's, 524 A'. Michigan Av. and other locations. DE 2-7500. Rattan that's made for rocking Wicker for oiir floor-, u.'lh. doorways, tables, or jut about any place in Miur home. You'll find elageres and chairs, placemals and chests, baskets and beds, curtains ami couches. Woodrosc buys from all over the world, a regular I nited Nations of merchandise. You'll find things from Yugoslavia. Haiti. Africa, llong Kong. A personal favorite: a rocking "hor-e" in the shape of a goose a greal toy for small fry; an init re-ling piece of sculpture f-tr adults. Prices range from fiO cents to S17." so chances are ou probahlv will find something vou like in anv price range. Il oodrose, nil If. Armilage Av., '2')..W2I). ' DtilinJohn Frank JPonr Express NlT Not the Joffrey, but . . . Random happenings around fown: The Chicago Ballet performs at Hemmen's Auoliorium, Elgin, tomorrow at 7:30 and Sunday at 3. The program , includes "Romeo and Juliet," "Monotones," "Collage," and "Raymonda." Adults, $5; students,' $3.50. 697-8800. Drummer Buddy Rich and his orchestra appear at IIT's Grover M. Hermann Hall tomorrow at 8 p. m., 3241 S. Federal St. $3. "Ceramic Art cf the World" on exhibit Sunday at Exhibit A, Gallsry of American Ceramics, 1708 Central St., Evanston. Thru Feb. 28. Custom cars and Bo Diddley The far-out looking cars to be found this weekend at the Amphitheater are not your everyday run-of-the-mill variety. More than 300 "forms of transportation" on display at the International Championship Speed and Custom Auto Show, today thru Sunday. One of the most unusual is the "Love Machine" that contains a rotating circular bed. An extra treat: Bo Diddley and a continuous "History of Rock V Roll Show." The price to look: Adults, $3; kids, $1. In addition to the ' Love Machine," you can check out hot rods, restored cars, antique and classic cars. And speaking of cars, the next big show in town happens Feb. 23 thru March 3 at McCormick Place that's when Detroit parades all the new models. Folkrock, etc. ,FJrst there was "Jesus Christ Superstar," then "Sodspell." Now there's "Hosanna!" It's a musical revue based on the words of Christ and the songs range from Gregorian chant to contemporary folkrock. Presented in-the-round by Saini Xavier College at 3737 W. 99th St. Sunday at 3. $3.50. MM M III I It Tixys VLuf r n r a aa t rL'dcclin Portrait.' CA.K -er'-will'iiot'o -n- OJiec- .see J' -n -w . . ii. . a .r- uv .r TMT- hp..r tole away tvj AH LL" He r'ALDVA' 1 , ,r . ,1 I r r-t e MM J st B ft it i rm f Stamp out the blahs Suggestion to chase away the winter blahs: Take a class. The Central YWCA Community College, 21 1 W. Wack-er Dr., has some great ones and at hard-to-beat prices. Some on weekends, some on weekdays and evenings. Crafty classes such as decoupage and macrame; more cerebral ventures such as Zen, archeology, French. The term begins Monday. For more information, 222-8300. The azalea trail in Lincoln Park Don't let the weather get you down. Give yourself a lift and visit the Garfield or Lincoln Park Conservatories. The 32d Azalea and Camellia Show opens tomorrow in both spots. Even if it's cold and dreary outside, it'll be warm and cheery inside. Beautiful springtime gardens reminiscent of the azalea trails in the south that you can walk thru. More than 1,500 azaleas in 22 varieties lush white, delicate pink, lavender, and vivid red azaleas with accents of red, white, pink, ano variegated camellias. For variety, hyacinths, tulips, narcissi, and primroses scattered along the way. Thru March 3, 9 'til 9. Free. Mush! Definitely for the winter people in the crowd the Sled Dog Races at Green Lake, Wis., tomorrow and Sunday. More than 75 sled dog teams to compete on courses up to 1 1 miles long. If you can find the gas, we'v heard it's an exciting place to be. Giving adult orders Very special entertainment for children coming up at the University of Chicago. First in a series of five starts tomorrow. It's called The Prop- Si osition Circus and the kids in the audience make up the show their ideas are turned into games, machines, fairy tales, etc. At 1 1 a. m Mandol Hall, 5706 S. University Av. $1. Upcoming; the Awaji Puppet Theater of Japan, Feb. 23d; films and cartoons, March 23; "Babar in Ozhland" April 20; and "Tongues," , a modern dance concert May 18. For more information, 753-3581.

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