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Jill St. John,
Police detective Joe Leland investigates the murder of a homosexual man. While investigating, he discovers links to official corruption in New York City in this drama that delves into a world of sex and drugs. Written by
Regis M. Donovan <email@example.com>
Unusual topics make this dated crime drama worth checking out.
Made at a time when the cinema was exploring new freedoms in language, violence and sex, this is a somewhat tough character study which is tame now, but had to be pretty gritty then. Sinatra is the title cop, a man who bucks the system at times, but has an innate core of fairness. When a wealthy homosexual is found slain and mutilated, Sinatra and his partner Freeman set out to find the culprit. Meanwhile, Sinatra reflects on his troubled marriage to sophisticated, but oversexed Remick. He arrests thuggish Musante for the crime and wins a promotion for his trouble, but, soon after, a young woman (Bisset) comes forth with a case that may be tied into the original one. Sinatra gives an assured and believable performance, though it is jarring at first to hear him bandying about terms like "penis" and "queer", etc... Remick is attractive and effortlessly sophisticated as his wife who can't seem to keep her knickers on. The supporting cast is made up of great pros who offer a lot. Meeker is a jaded, slimy fellow detective. Klugman does well as a family man cop who helps Sinatra crack cases. Duvall is menacing as a hard-nosed and prejudicial policeman. Musante is so over-the-top it is unbelievable! His interrogation scene is a lesson in extremes (and helped sideline his US career for a while.) Bisset is lovely, as usual, but was shoehorned in (costumes and all!) at the eleventh hour for Sinatra's estranged wife Mia Farrow and the part doesn't fit her as well. She's meant to be a slightly boyish type and that's a tad easier to do on Farrow than it was on Bisset. Bochner is a little too cartoon-campy as a vaguely sinister psychiatrist. Though today's audience will likely find many things to pick apart with the story, it is nonetheless a fascinating glimpse into what Hollywood's depiction of gays was at the time. One unintentionally funny scene involves a dockside parking lot in which scores of gay men crowd into the back of cargo trucks and snuggle - fully clothed! There's also a groovy trip into a velvety gay bar. The film's chief flaws are its overuse of LENGTHY flashbacks and a hugely distracting habit of having Sinatra and Remick deliver lines directly into the camera, a big no-no except in comedies or quirky dramas. The flashbacks are necessary in order to flush out the romantic story, but they tend to be disjointed and overlong. The issue of speaking to the camera could have been easily solved by just having the actors act opposite each other. This was an experiment that just doesn't work. But the film has a fair share of interesting dialogue, situations and visual appeal. One amusing line has a forensic specialist telling Sinatra that the victim was a homosexual. Sinatra looks around the overdone apartment and says, "Looks like he was a leader!" Moss Mabry got quite a workout coming up with outfits for Remick, less so for Bisset.
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