5.9/10
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Murder in Black and White (1990)

A recently appointed black police commissioner is killed. So, Frank Janek is assigned to investigate.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Wycoff
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Martin
Paul Sparer ...
Chief Drake
Richard Russell Ramos ...
Lugash
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Mrs. Finkelstein
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Emma
Wanakee Legardy ...
Nadine
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Brannigan
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Storyline

A recently appointed black police commissioner is killed. So, Frank Janek is assigned to investigate.

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Plot Keywords:

police | color in title | sequel | See All (3) »

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Crime | Drama | Thriller

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Release Date:

7 January 1990 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Asesinato en blanco y negro  »

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1.33 : 1
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Arch Johnson's final role. See more »

Connections

Followed by Murder Times Seven (1990) See more »

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What links three disparate murders in one night and with one m.o.?
11 June 2012 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Richard Crenna and his unit solve this mystery in a hyped-up New York City atmosphere, with the by now clichéd background of community interest groups, race relations, cops trying to retire the easy way, and politics.

A new police commissioner is found dead in a Central Park sailboat pool, and it looks as if he went wading in the middle of the night, slipped and hit his head. However, within hours another corpse is found of a doctor. Several days later, yet another female corpse is found. All were killed with a blow to the head.

Crenna leads his unit in investigating the related persons, but leads are slow to turn up, giving him time to romance Diahann Carroll a bit. The crew goes off in some false directions, so as to pad out the movie. In particular, a subplot with the estranged son of the commissioner is introduced and he is given a long speech about his relations with his dad. Even a very good actor would have had trouble selling that scene.

Ms. Carroll is her usual attractive self but with her usual monotone/overly smooth/nasal delivery (soap-operish?) that I find annoying. But then most of the actors had a wee bit of trouble in this movie making their parts seem credible. The exceptions would be Cliff Gorman and Richard Crenna who have the capacity to show some chutzpah and seem real.

The movie can't be called hard-boiled, nor yet does it go deeply into politics. It's more like keep up a rapid pace, even as it digresses. It doesn't make the most of a story that really isn't bad. It's content with a sort of gloss and superficiality such that one cannot take it too seriously. This is a TV-movie (Lifetime), after all. Some rise above their origins and have some panache. This one doesn't. It has blandness. Nothing too exaggerated. Nothing too powerful. I rate it as average, between 5 and 6.


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