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Order of Death (1983)

Copkiller (l'assassino dei poliziotti) (original title)
A pair of corrupt cops spend their illegal cash on an uptown New York City flat.



(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lt. Fred O'Connor
Leo Smith
Lenore Carvo
Leonard Mann ...
Bob Carvo
Carla Romanelli
Nicola Cancellaro
Ettore Venturini
Antonio D'Acquisto
Benedetto Sestili
Giorgio Lucenti
Angelo Cecchetti
Nikolaus Moras
Bob Kelly
Tony Mayer


A pair of corrupt cops spend their illegal cash on an uptown New York City apartment. John Lydon stars as Leo Smith, a disturbed teenager who plays a bizarre game of cat-and-mouse with cop O'Connor ('Harvey Keitel'). He convinces him that he's the notorious cop killer that has been hunting police officers. O'Connor kidnaps him and makes him his permanent guest inside his apartment. Is Smith the corrupt cop killer? Can Harvey get to the bottom of this twisted case before it's too late, or will he get caught up in some twisted game? Written by TheUnbeholden

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


E' giovane, è ricco. Non lo fa per denaro.


Crime | Thriller


R | See all certifications »




Release Date:

15 March 1983 (Italy)  »

Also Known As:

Corrupt  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
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Did You Know?


Filmed in 1981, not released in the US until 1984. See more »

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User Reviews

Panic in Narc Squad!
10 November 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A cop-killer stalks the city. Two corrupt cops, Lt. O'Connor and his colleague Bob (Harvey Keitel and Leonard Mann), share a secret apartment bought from confiscated drug money. O'Connor faces losing everything when Leo Smith (John Lydon) turns up at the apartment claiming to be the cop-killer.

Faithful adaptation of a remarkable book by Hugh Fleetwood. The book is mainly Lt. O'Connor's rant against the dangers of liberalism, opening with O'Connor buying his hated New York Times – hated because he considers the perceived liberal attitude of the paper to be compassionate with everything that is "weak, sick and degenerate" in society (he explains this theory to New York Times journalist – and wife of Bob – Lenore.) O'Connor defends his own corruption to Bob by stating that it is "the banning of drugs" that is corrupt. This isn't really expanded on in the film. In the book, O'Connor wants drugs legalised so that the aforementioned "weak, sick and degenerate" people will be willing slaves to their addictions and won't go out and "mug an old lady or kill an old man" to feed their illegal habit. The only place that Keitel can find the order he craves is in his strange, unfurnished apartment – witness his annoyance at Mann not tidying up. Keitel is utterly outraged when the deranged Leo Smith corrupts his secret refuge.

Lydon is perfectly cast, at least as regards his public image (to coin a phrase) – insidious, sickly and un-American looking, "strange kind of a guy." In the book, his character is even sicker; his initial appearance is particularly disquieting as he apparently eggs Keitel on to kill him as part of a weird quasi-sexual game. In reality, Lydon was really a decent chap – quitting the Sex Pistols because he refused to make a record with Ronnie Biggs (Lydon felt uncomfortable that Biggs had heisted working class money and coshed a railway employee for good measure); his morality contrasting sharply with the media's portrayal of him, at the time, as public enemy number 1. In reality, it was the British tabloid press, and particularly the Sun, who were out of step with decency – the Sun, a newspaper read by the working class, which appeared to hate working class people, being, in the 80s at least, a right wing and sporadically racist paper (it's hatred of its very readership culminated in its shocking coverage of the Hillsborough football disaster).

Of course, Lydon isn't an actor and he isn't quite as good as Keitel here. The mind games they enter into (once Keitel imprisons Lydon in the apartment) are pretty interesting stuff though – at turns sinister, camp and affecting – a real head to head battle of wills, reminiscent of Performance. (It's peculiarly touching to see a crying, whimpering Lydon at one point.) There's a few moody shots of early 80s New York but mainly the action takes place in the apartment – it's the focal point for the whole film. Here Smith acts out his obsession with the police. He's apparently read a book (written, O'Connor later finds out, by Bob's wife Lenore) which argues that the police are the real enemy of order, in that they inspire us to commit crimes so that we may be punished for them. (Lenore is played by the European Nicole Garcia, who's decidedly un-American views O'Connor finds flabbergasting.)

Also of note here is the soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. Recurring throughout is a country song based on a Tchaikovsky melody. O'Connor puts the song on his record player at the start of the film (it's an album but we never get to hear the rest of the songs) and its lyrics "It's been so long since I last felt this way" equate to scenes of O'Connor smoking expensive cigars and relaxing. We next hear the song when Bob tells him that he wants to quit the apartment ("You bought it so that you'd have something to feel guilty about"). After that, it's playing when O'Connor tortures Smith with a lit cigar – and so on. It's the same song but each time it's used with progressively more desperate images. What starts out as innocuous becomes more and more sinister – with O'Connor incapable of understanding what's happening to him before it's all too late.

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