|Index||8 reviews in total|
If this had been released theatrically, it could have been a candidate for some Oscars, and likely on most "10 best" film lists for 1973. Probably can be easily said that it's at least one of the 10 best TV films ever made, and ranks right up there with DUEL. It's Telly Savales' best performance, and that means he's superb. It's the role he was meant to play and no wonder it became the popular KOJAK television series. I saw this when first broadcast in 1973, and found it completely absorbing, at a time when I was more interested in action and horror stuff, like most kids, and when I could barely sit still for anything dramatic, but Savales held my attention, and the storyline never sagged. Everything in the film is top-notch, and a later second viewing years afterward only confirmed this. You won't be disappointed!
I came across this movie whilst channel surfing and boy was I pleasantly surprised. I was expecting an episode of the TV series but instead got a gritty 70'd classic. This a low down story of Police and the systems corruption which is still relevant today. Telly Savalas is superb as Kojack the only decent cop in New York who is prepared to see the set up that is taking place. A slow reveal with excellent supporting cast makes this a recommendation for everyone. This is truly an undiscovered gem that if it was a cinema movie would still be lauded today. This is a movie that really needs wider exposure. Now how to I go about getting the to show it at the BFI?
I agree with the other comment on this-I feel this is an excellent film and, when i voted for this film I noticed that many of the high votes were by people roughly the same age as me (18) who, like me, probably don't remember when this was originally shown- I feel this speaks volumes about how relevant and engaging this film remains after all these years... and don't get me wrong - I have hardly ever seen Kojak but this film as it stands on its own makes sense and is very good. I wont spoil the film but I'll just say that I also like how the film doesn't really have a definite answer and leaves the viewer to agree or disagree with the ending. I'd recommend buying this if you can as It's a good price these days but still a great film.
This generation of film makers are afraid to make something like this now. Distributors wont touch it.This should not have been a TV movie. Academy award worthy across the board here. The direction, the cinematography, one heck of a script, and you can take your pick of the actors whose performances went past the heart and right for the gut. The subject matter supporting the Kojak mythology puts the film right up there with any top civil rights documentary. I first saw it as the " The 3:30 movie" on channel seven in Chicago back in 74.I didn't know what I was looking at until I studied the King event. Abby Mann later wrote and directed "King" but this script is as close as you will get to a saturated gritty matter-of -fact telling of a story that still rightly embarrasses the legal system. I always wondered why the networks never bothered to show it again. I see why...and so will you.
Effectively the pilot for the long running TV detective series 'Kojak",
this TV movie is actually far more than that, being a dramatisation
(with names changed) of an important case in American legal history, in
establishing the rights of a defendant to have their legal rights read
to them before answering questions relating to the offence.
Not that it helped the young unemployed black victim here, subject to a monstrous miscarriage of justice which sees him charged with three murders and an attempted rape he patently didn't do, who ended up serving time despite the efforts of in particular Kojak (a composite of the actual officers who bravely stood up for the accused) and an experienced defence attorney played by Jose Ferrer after the original court appointee (played by Robert Walden, later Joe Rossi in "Lou Grant") palpably fails him.
The direction eschews showiness and documents with fly-on-the-wall realism, the seamy methods of a so-called respected police force to pin a crime on the first donkey who comes along.
Fans of the TV series will be surprised to see none of the excellent supporting cast which made the show such a success in the 70's, like Dan Frazer and Kevin Dobson, although Telly's brother George, later the hang-dog Stavros gets a bit part as a newspaper reporter. Kojak himself isn't the finished article either as we see him act in ways he never would later on, such as violently losing his temper with a suspect, getting up close and personal with a past lover and even just working as a lone wolf much of the time. Savalas himself is excellent, already displaying the intensity of his character in his fine Italian clothes, although at this stage in his development catch-phrase and lollipop-less.
I read up on the "Career Girls" murders case which begot this drama and commend the makers for staying true to the story and bringing to light an unacceptable weakness in US justice. The fact that it led to a TV series as good as any to ever come of American television was just a bonus, albeit a very good one.
I love true stories, especially this one. Based on the book by author Selwyn Raab, (a New York Times reporter) "Justice in the Back Room". This film was intense and very close to the book. The main character Louis Humes was played by Gene Woodbury who played the part perfectly as a shy uneducated black kid that was unjustly accused of an attempted rape, a murder in Brooklyn and also implicated in a double homicide in Manhattan. The newspapers in 1963 dubbed this as the Career Girl Murders. The film calls it the Marcus Nelson murders. The story rubbed me the wrong way because at the end, the narration said Humes was still in jail. It also said the prosecutor was elected an assemblyman. I wanted to know about this and read the book. Humes(not his real name) was finally cleared but the NY police tried to pin a mugging charge against him when he was in south Jersey. He was cleared of that too. Kojak is a composite of Selwyn Raab and some police officers that care.
"Kojak:The Marcus-Nelson Murders" was a made for television movie that
premiered as a CBS Special Presentation on March 8,1973. It was based
on the book by Selwyn Raab(who was a reporter for the New York
Times)titled "Justice In The Back Room". Written by Abby Mann and
Directed by Joesph Sargent,this Emmy-winning television drama was based
on the 1963 Wylie-Hoffert "Career Girls Murders". The crime involves
the brutal rape and murder of two young professional women in
Manhattan. The movie serve as the basis as the pilot for the "Kojak"
television series starring Telly Savalas. An African-American male by
the name of Lewis Humes(Gene Woodbury)was arrested for a crime that he
did not commit. To find the real killer,Lt. "Theo" Kojak conducts a
second investigation with a different team of detectives(Ned Beatty,
William Watson)along with his superior officer Sgt. Dan McCartney(Bruce
Kirby). After illegally obtaining a confession,the police have
identified the real suspect in the murders which exonerated the suspect
and identified the culprit,who was a Puerto-Rican junkie.
"Kojak:The Marcus-Nelson Murders" was a gritty and intense police drama with a subtext focusing on institutionalized prejudice and the civil rights and suspects and witnesses. The opening and closing titles of the film emphasize that it was a fictional account of the events that led to the creation of "Miranda" rights by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1966. As for the TV-Movie on which the series "Kojak" was based on,there was no other actor out there that did it better than the great Telly Savalas. The supporting cast features Chita Rivera,to Tol Avery, Robert Walden,Jose Ferrer,Val Bisoglio,Lorraine Gary and Allen Garfield,many of these stars would make guest appearances later on for the "Kojak" television series during the early-to-mid 1970's.
"The Marcus-Nelson Murders" (1973) is a first-rate neo-noir, although I
have never seen it listed or mentioned as such. This is a shame because
this movie is terrific. It runs 137 minutes and was the initial Kojak
entry. It stars, of course, Telly Savalas. Last night, watching an
excellent copy taped from a satellite station, it was every bit as good
and better than I remembered it. Savalas played it beautifully, but so
did everyone else.
The movie is based on an actual case, and the writers, Abby Mann and Selwyn Raab, got involved in that case in real time. See here: http://www.criterionforum.org/forum/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=9567 Abby Mann has always been a great writer, creating such material as "The Detective" (1968), "Report to the Commissioner" (1975), "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961) and "Ship of Fools" (1965). The director, the late Joseph Sargent, was a TV-movie expert, but along the way he showed great skill in handling suspense in big screen movies like "Colossus: The Forbin Project" (1970) and "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (1974).
The story focuses squarely on the failings of the justice system, both police and prosecution, in New York City. It zooms in on the horrendous police tactics used to extort (compel) a long and detailed confession from a black lad who was actually trying to help the police identify someone running from the scene of an attempted rape, really not even that. Before he can speak up freely, he's being indicted for the rape, and being held for the murders of two young women, daughters of well-to-do New Yorkers, who shared an apartment. He's completely innocent but that doesn't stop the police, anxious to make a name in a headline case, from shafting him.
The location shooting in the city is outstanding in capturing both ordinary neighborhoods and bombed out areas. The shooting inside the police stations captures their darkness and griminess (while in dark colors). The courtroom scenes look genuine. In fact, everything looks completely genuine.
The supporting cast features a wonderful array of talent: Ned Beatty, Roger Robinson, Marjoe Gortner, Jose Ferrer, Val Bisoglio, Allen Garfield, Lorraine Gary, and William Watson. The actor playing the besieged youth is Gene Woodbury, who drops out of view after 1981.
The movie is marked by well-rounded and non-clichéd characterizations. At one point, in seeking to break down the silence of the real murderer, Kojak almost becomes as bad as the police who intimidated the innocent boy. Kojak despises the drug-dealing Roger Robinson, but the home life of him and his wife and their treatment of their children is mainstream, except that his recreational drug of choice is not alcohol. The murderer does have a mother and does have a conscience, not really grasping why his attempt at burglary ended up in murder. The prosecutor, Allen Garfield, cannot let go of his political rhetoric and repeated attempts to pillory an innocent man, even to suppressing vital evidence, because he wants to be elected to political office. The dirty cops have well-rehearsed ways to elude being pinned down when testifying.
This is a very hard-hitting story that does not shrink from indicting the system.
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