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The Detective
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The Detective (1968) More at IMDbPro »

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The Detective -- Trailer for this gritty detective film


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Up 7% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Abby Mann (screenplay)
Roderick Thorp (novel)
View company contact information for The Detective on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
28 May 1968 (USA) See more »
Roderick Thorp's giant novel comes on like a powerhouse! (poster) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Primarily of Interest as a Portrait of 1960s American Homophobia See more (44 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Frank Sinatra ... Joe Leland

Lee Remick ... Karen

Ralph Meeker ... Curran

Jack Klugman ... Dave Schoenstein

Horace McMahon ... Farrell
Lloyd Bochner ... Dr. Roberts

William Windom ... Colin MacIver
Tony Musante ... Felix

Al Freeman Jr. ... Robbie

Robert Duvall ... Nestor
Pat Henry ... Mercidis
Patrick McVey ... Tanner
Dixie Marquis ... Carol Linjack
Sugar Ray Robinson ... Kelly

Renée Taylor ... Rachael Schoenstein
James Inman ... Teddy Leikman

Tom Atkins ... Harmon

Jacqueline Bisset ... Norma MacIver
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ted Beniades ... Reporter (uncredited)
Mark Dawson ... Desk Sergeant (uncredited)
James Dukas ... Medical Examiner (uncredited)
Jan Farrand ... Karen's Friend at Theatre (uncredited)
Don Fellows ... Reporter (uncredited)
Tom Gorman ... Prison Priest (uncredited)
Sharon Henesy ... Sharon (uncredited)
Richard Krisher ... Matt Henderson (uncredited)
Lou Krugman ... Reporter (uncredited)
Paul Larson ... Reporter (uncredited)
Alan Manson ... Reporter (uncredited)

Bette Midler ... Girl at Party (uncredited) (unconfirmed)
Earl Montgomery ... Desk Clerk (uncredited)
Peg Murray ... Girl at Party (uncredited)
Lou Nelson ... Procurer (uncredited)

George Plimpton ... Reporter (uncredited)
Frank Raiter ... Tough Homosexual (uncredited)
Jilly Rizzo ... Bartender (uncredited)
Jose Rodriguez ... Boy in police station (uncredited)

Joe Santos ... Reporter (uncredited)
Arnold Soboloff ... Reporter (uncredited)
Philip Sterling ... Reporter (uncredited)
Peter York ... Decent Boy (uncredited)

Directed by
Gordon Douglas 
Writing credits
(in alphabetical order)
Abby Mann  screenplay
Roderick Thorp  novel

Produced by
Aaron Rosenberg .... producer
Original Music by
Jerry Goldsmith 
Cinematography by
Joseph F. Biroc 
Film Editing by
Robert L. Simpson  (as Robert Simpson)
Art Direction by
William J. Creber  (as William Creber)
Jack Martin Smith 
Set Decoration by
Walter M. Scott 
Jerry Wunderlich 
Costume Design by
Donald Brooks 
Moss Mabry 
Makeup Department
Layne Britton .... makeup artist: Mr. Sinatra
Edith Lindon .... hair stylist
Daniel C. Striepeke .... makeup artist (as Dan Striepeke)
Ben Nye .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Production Management
David Silver .... unit production manager
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Richard Lang .... assistant director
Sound Department
David Dockendorf .... sound
Harry Lindgren .... sound (as Harry M. Lindgren)
Visual Effects by
L.B. Abbott .... special photographic effects
Art Cruickshank .... special photographic effects
Harry Daley .... stunts (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Thomas Del Ruth .... assistant camera
Alan Stetson .... grip
Music Department
Warren Barker .... orchestrator
Other crew
Dolores Rubin .... script supervisor
Arthur Schultheiss .... technical advisor (as Lt. Arthue E. Schulteiss)
Ralph M. Leo .... production accountant (uncredited)
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
114 min
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Finland:K-16 | Germany:12 (DVD rating) | Netherlands:6 | Norway:16 | Singapore:PG | Singapore:NC-16 (DVD rating) | Spain:18 | Sweden:15 | UK:12 | UK:X (original rating) | UK:15 (original video rating) | USA:Approved (Suggested for Mature Audiences) | USA:Approved (certificate #21718) | West Germany:18 (f)

Did You Know?

First film of Don Fellows.See more »
Miscellaneous: In the credits, the last name of the character played by William Windom is spelled "MacIver". But on the envelope containing his taped confession, Dr. Roberts has spelled it "McIver".See more »
AgainSee more »


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18 out of 25 people found the following review useful.
Primarily of Interest as a Portrait of 1960s American Homophobia, 8 March 2008
Author: gftbiloxi ( from Biloxi, Mississippi

Based on the 1966 novel by Roderick Thorp, THE DETECTIVE was among the highest grossing films of both 1968 and one of the most popular of Frank Sinatra's film career. At the time it was considered remarkably honest in its portrait of a no-nonsense cop who finds himself trapped between a series of compromises and his own sense of integrity. Today, however, it chiefly notable for its unintentional window onto 1960s homophobia.

Joe Leland (Frank Sinatra) is a third generation New York City police officer who begins the film with two victories: in his private life, he has wooed and won a remarkably beautiful wife, Karen (Lee Remick); in his professional life, he is assigned to a particularly notorious murder case that he quickly solves and which results in a major promotion. But both explode in his face in particularly unsavory ways. Although flawless on the surface, Karen is a distinctly disturbed woman who shatters their marriage through a series of compulsive affairs. And although it seems solved, the case on which Joe's promotion rests may not be nearly as simple as every one thought at the time.

The case involves the brutal murder of a gay man who is found with his head battered in and sexually mutilated--a circumstance that leads Joe and his co-workers to prowl 'known homosexual hangouts' such as gyms and the waterfront. In the process, the film creates a portrait of the gay community that says considerably less about the gay community than the way in which heterosexual America thought of it at the time. The gay men themselves are improbable, being pulled out of group gropes from the back of cargo trucks, flexing muscles in tawny-colored gyms, frequenting bars notable for satin and velvet, and lounging about in silk robes. They come in two basic varieties, victim and predator. They are weak and are routinely brutalized by both each other and the police, the latter of which positively delight in knocking them around.

This is not particularly unusual for films of the 1960s and the 1970s; it is much the same portrait presented by such diverse films as ADVISE AND CONSENT and CRUISING. What is unusual is Joe's attitude toward them: unlike his co-workers, he dislikes seeing them mistreated and prefers to see them (and indeed all other suspects) accorded a certain basic respect as human beings. It was a very, very bold stance for a film to take at the time. Even so, it does not counterbalance the portrait itself, which is intrinsically demeaning, or the story, which ultimately pivots on a version of "gay panic"--a heterosexual myth used here with a slight spin.

The chief grace of the film is the performances of Sinatra and Remick. Today Sinatra is best recalled as a singer, but he had some significant acting chops, and he proves more than able to over the shortcomings of the script. Lee Remick, a much-admired actress, is flawlessly cast as the perfidious wife Karen, a woman who superficial qualities conceal an unraveling personality. The supporting cast, which features Jacqueline Bissett, Jack Klugman, and Robert Duvall, is also quite fine. But the script is weak, the story choppy, the film is a shade too glossy for its subject--and its incredibly naive portrait of gay men tends to overpower everything.

All films must be considered in the context of their eras, but even so a good film can transcend its era. THE DETECTIVE doesn't manage to do that: sometimes ridiculous to the point of being amusing, sometimes so grotesque that it becomes a bit embarrassing. All the same, it remains interesting primarily because it offers a window on what mainstream Americans of the 1960s thought homosexuals were like. The DVD offers the film in original widescreen format; the transfer, however, is merely acceptable. Recommended primarily to Sinatra fans and film historians interested in Hollywood's frequently off-the-wall portray of gay men.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer

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