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A young district attorney seeking to prove a case against a corrupt police detective encounters a former lover and her new protector, a crime boss who refuses to help him in this gritty crime film. Written by
Keith Loh <email@example.com>
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TIP-TOE THRU' THE TULIPS WITH ME
Written by Al Dubin and Joseph A. Burke
Performed by Tiny Tim
Courtesy of Reprise Records
Warner Bros. Music
A division of Warner Bros. Inc.
By Arrangement with Warner Special Products See more »
Sidney Lumet does what he does best. Tell a story about law and order in New York and look into police corruption.
Timothy Hutton plays Reilly, a young former cop turned assistant district attorney asked by the police commissioner (Patrick O'Neal) to look into the shooting of a Puerto Rican criminal by detective Brennan (Nick Nolte) who claims it was self defence. The commissioner tells him that its an open and shut case and also tells him that if its not in the Q&A then it did not happen.
However Hutton is determined and finds flaws in Brennan's story and the case leads him to a charismatic Puerto Rican crime boss called Bobby Tex (Armand Assante) whose wife was once Hutton's girlfriend until he discovered she was mixed race.
It looks like Brennan is an out of control cop who is trying to get rid of some select criminals on behalf of someone at the top. The commissioner turns out to be a hypocrite as he later tells Hutton that he is taking the Q&A too seriously.
Nolte gives a larger than live performance as the foul mouthed, racist, homophobic, brutish cop who is a legend in the department. The first one through the door and is willing to break the law if necessary. His fellow cops know better to cross him and have to put up with his jibes. However he does not run away with the acting stakes as he is matched by Assante and Hutton.
Assante gives a scene stealing performance as the drug dealer who just wants to get out of the business alive. He knows Brennan is dangerous and frankly he knows too much hence why he wants out. This was an era when Assante looked to have broken through and had a good run of films in the early 1990s.
Timothy Hutton could had been a brat packer in the early 1980s. He was a contemporary of Tom Cruise, Sean Penn but separated from them early on for the simple reason by 1981 he was a best supporting actor Oscar winner. Since then Hutton decided to work with acclaimed directors or make interesting even offbeat films. The result is he might not be as well known today to cinema audiences but he has had a varying filmography.
Here Hutton plays the earnest ADA who is out to cross swords with Brennan but he himself is flawed. His father was a cop and might had been on the take. His treatment of his former girlfriend suggests he might also be racist.
This is a moderately budget, moody, noir thriller. Ruben Blades matches the mood with his soundtrack. Director Sidney Lumet was in the twilight of his career and this was maybe his last great film. Of course he was probably jaded with the criminal justice system by then and you always sense the film has a cynical and depressed air about it. That the system is rotten to the core and cannot be fixed.
Lumet gets his actors to pull out top performances and even some of the minor characters make their mark.
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