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Realistic New York Cop Drama
bkoganbing10 December 2005
Benefitting from the location shooting in New York of the Sixties, Madigan is a fast paced police action thriller. Richard Widmark and Harry Guardino are a pair of veteran NYPD detectives who get the tables turned on them by a suspected killer they were trying to bring in. They've got 72 hours to find him or face the consequences. In addition to losing suspect Steve Ihnat, Ihnat also relieved them of their police weapons.

You get the feeling that both Widmark and Guardino are past their prime and maybe ought to be coasting towards retirement with desk duty. The way Ihnat gets the better of them in the movie has to be seen to be believed and I won't say more.

Widmark and Guardino are both good in their parts, but the acting honors have to go to Steve Ihnat in this film. He is one the most maniacal killers ever brought to the silver screen and you won't forget him after seeing Madigan. Tragically he died four years after this film was made and a great career was cut short. Besides this film, Ihnat is probably best known for another maniacal portrayal on a Star Trek episode where he's a convict who takes over a futuristic prison and wants to use the Enterprise as a getaway vehicle.

The film is based on a novel entitled The Commissioner and that title part goes to Henry Fonda. In the films of Henry Fonda he says he was tricked into this film. As you might gather the character of the NYPD Police Commissioner is the central one in the novel and it was on that basis that Fonda took the part. Didn't turn out that way, but Fonda stuck it out, partially because he admired Widmark as a player having worked with him previously in Warlock.

Madigan being directed by Don Siegel is a forerunner of the more famous Harry Callahan character that Siegel directed Clint Eastwood in the first of the Dirty Harry films.

The action doesn't slow for a second even in the scenes not involving the pursuit of Ihnat because of the tension Siegel creates. And of course the character created by Ihnat.
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An Excellent Police-Drama Movie
claudio_carvalho16 January 2004
Detective Daniel Madigan (the excellent Richard Widmark) is very efficient and experienced, but also has no ethics. His partner, Detective Rocco Bonaro (Harry Guardino), and him go to a hotel room for the simple arrest of the small-time bandit Barney Benesch (Steve Ihnat). Madigan is reckless and in a lack of attention on Benesch, he reacts, takes the guns of the detectives and escapes. When back to the precinct, they receive the information that Benesch is a killer. Commissioner Anthony X.Russel (Henry Fonda), a very rigid and moralist man, gives a schedule of three days maximum for the detectives to arrest Benesch. Yesterday it was the first time that I watched this excellent police-drama movie. In the present days, this movie is politically incorrect: Madigan has no ethics, most of the characters have affair with lovers, smoking is `in', the interrogation is rough without human rights, and this is one of the greatest points of this film, since it is very real. Further, Don Siegel does not need car chases, explosions and other special effects to hook the attention of the viewer. The direction, screenplay and performance of the actors and actresses are more than enough to satisfy the viewer. The characters are very well developed and the scenes are very realistic. Again, an excellent police-drama movie recommended for those who like police story. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): ` Os Impiedosos' (`The Unmerciful')
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Lively, well-characterized police thriller with excellent locations
Nazi_Fighter_David14 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In the late Sixties there has been a tendency towards rough cops who are up against the system – whatever that is – yet who win through despite all odds… Richard Widmark was one of them…

In "Madigan" he is a solid, touchy New York detective who, like Quinn in "Across 110th Street," knows the people on his patch and knows how to handle them…

Unlike the Quinn character, however, he is honest to the nth degree… He will kill, beat and cheat to destroy the big villains, yet retains a curious affection for the little crooks that cross his path… One feels that if Madigan took a bribe, it would be secretly witnessed and the evidence produced in court to the ruination of some baddie
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Great bookends, sagging middle
BrandtSponseller1 February 2005
Detective Daniel Madigan (Richard Widmark) and Detective Rocco Bonaro (Harry Guardino) enter a squalid Manhattan apartment building to pick up Barney Benesch (Steve Ihnat), who is wanted for questioning on a case in Brooklyn. When Benesch manages to take Madigan and Bonaro's guns away and escape, Police Commissioner Anthony X Russell (Henry Fonda) tells them that they have 72 hours to get Benesch back, or else.

Out of all of the Don Siegel-directed films I've seen to date, this was the biggest disappointment. The film begins and ends with fantastic action sequences--well directed, well shot, with a nice, gritty feel, but in between the film felt overlong, overly complex, and far too soap-opera-like for my tastes.

It could be due to Madigan being adapted from a novel, but Abraham Polonsky and Howard Rodman's ("Henri Simoun" here) script includes so many different threads, most of them inconsequential to the outcome of the film, that it almost begins to lose coherence in the middle. It's a bad sign when the major arc of the story is completed, but characters still have to engage in a number of "But what about so and so?" verbal tags at the end of the film to try to satisfy the audience.

It feels almost as if Madigan is made for two entirely different crowds--one, fans of gritty crime action films, and the other, fans of realist dramas cum soap operas. I can't imagine the former caring about most of the material in the middle (unless it had a pay off towards their genre), and I can't imagine the latter being interested in the action scenes. Most of the material in the middle, although it has some more than admirable dialogue and decent performances, hinges on a complex web of personal and professional relationships--various romantic affairs, questionable relations between the police and citizens, and so on. It all comes to naught in the end. Also not helping is Henry Fonda's odd aloofness. Again, it might work if it had some other payoff, but it doesn't.

Still, the positive aspects were good enough to not bring my score below a 6. The film might also play better on a second viewing, where you better know how to adjust your expectations as it goes along. On a first, uninformed viewing, the beginning is likely to gear you up for a great, suspenseful and witty ride, leaving you disappointed in the middle, until you finally adjust and then you're awakened again with action at the end.
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Very good cop film that injects 1960s morality into the old Film Noir genre
planktonrules28 October 2006
This is a very good film--full of excellent acting and a pretty interesting story. Richard Widmark and Henry Fonda are both wonderful actors in the movie and their stories run parallel during most of the film--having almost no interaction in the film. Harry Guardino, Inger Stevens, James Whitmore and others provide some superb support and the film is very entertaining. In many ways it's like a 1960s take on Film Noir, though with slightly less "gritty" dialog and a lot of late 60s sensibilities (a bit of nudity and graphic language that at first took me by surprise). Now this isn't to say that the film is needlessly gratuitous. I just had a hard time, at first, hearing some of the swearing coming out of the mouths of some old-time actors. Additionally, and this did NOT improve the film for me, there were some soap opera-like elements thrown in that often didn't work. Having widower Fonda sleeping with a married woman who had kids just seemed sleazy and didn't at all fit with the character they had created. He prided himself on his decency and integrity, but this didn't seem to make much sense. However, the tension between Widmark and his wife, Stevens, did work pretty well, as you could certainly see how being a detective could really be tough on a marriage.

All in all, this was a very good film that seemed a little like DRAGNET, the TV show POLICE STORY and a soap opera all rolled into one. Good stuff that is well worth seeing, though I'd hesitate to let younger kids view this DVD.
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most realistic gunfight ever
SquirePM1 August 1999
Madigan is memorable for its final, climactic gunfight. This is the closest the cinematic art will ever come to reality unless someone actually captures a real life up-close-and-nasty gunfight on film. Widmark and Guardino vs. Steve Ihnat in about 4 seconds of absolute mayhem, with tragic results.

By the way, I saw this film in an Army hospital in 1969, while recovering from being wounded in Vietnam. It was projected on a bedsheet hung in the middle of a ward. The image showed through clearly, so I (and half the audience) watched it from the back side of the sheet; all lefts and rights were reversed!
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A precursor to "Dirty Harry"
bwaynef30 March 1999
A decent exploration of the maverick detective theme that Siegal would examine more successfully in "Dirty Harry." Richard Widmark is terrific in the title role, and the cinematography, along with some of the dialogue, is top notch. The film runs into problems, however, with the subplot involving police commissioner Henry Fonda, as well as Madigan's difficulties on the homefront with wife Inger Stevens. Had the emphasis remained on the manhunt conducted by Madigan and his partner (Harry Guardino), it could have been a classic. Instead, too much time is devoted to talk, and as any Siegal enthusiast knows, action is what he did best. The later TV series, again starring Widmark, is superior.
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One Weekend In June
seymourblack-110 August 2018
Warning: Spoilers
"Madigan" is widely recognised as being a significant influence on the spate of TV and movie cop dramas that become so popular in the 1970s. It's also quite an ambitious movie because in its 110 minutes, it features a manhunt for a killer, provides an insight into the complicated personal lives of police officers and contrasts the work of street cops with those in more senior roles. Maybe more significantly though, it also shows how the events that take place over a single weekend in June, lead a Police Commissioner to rethink the whole set of values and principles that he'd previously adhered to throughout his long and distinguished career.

Tough NYPD detectives Daniel Madigan (Richard Widmark) and Rocco Bonaro (Harry Guardino) break into a tenement apartment in Upper Manhattan to apprehend a suspect who's wanted for questioning and find Barney Benesch (Steve Ihnat) in bed with a naked young woman. Benesch reacts by pushing the woman out of the bed and takes advantage of the distraction that this causes to disarm the two cops and escape with their guns. When Chief Inspector Charlie Kane (James Whitmore) informs Police Commissioner Anthony X Russell (Henry Fonda) about the incident, the strict disciplinarian reacts by criticising the Manhattan officers for departing from the rules by attempting to make an arrest on behalf of a Brooklyn precinct and gives them just 72 hours to recapture Benesch.

Some other matters that Russell has to deal with on the same day include delivering a speech at the Police Academy graduation day, meeting a black preacher who claims that his son was beaten up and racially abused when arrested in connection with a sexual assault charge and also what to do about convincing evidence he'd been given of some serious wrongdoing by his oldest friend and colleague, Charlie Kane. Russell is a firm believer in what's right and what's wrong and doesn't recognise any middle ground and so decides he'll have to deal head-on with the accusations made against Kane.

Meanwhile, Madigan and Bonaro make progress in their search for Benesch by conscripting the help of a bookie called Midget Castiglione (Michael Dunn) and a young man named Hughie (Don Stroud) who'd acted as a pimp for Benesch. Working long hours and under considerable pressure, Madigan also has to cope with the complaints of his beautiful wife Julia (Inger Stevens) who berates him for the commitment he gives to his job and the fact that it leaves her lonely and frustrated at home. She also doesn't understand why he's not more focused on gaining promotions to achieve greater status and respect. A brief amount of time he spends with his ex-girlfriend Jonesy (Sheree North) provides a more pleasant interlude but when reports are received that Benesch has shot a couple of police officers with Madigan's gun, the pressure to bring the unhinged killer to justice becomes even more intense.

Despite there being many different threads to its plot, "Madigan" never loses its impetus or clarity and through the use of extensive location work, also achieves a gritty, semi-documentary style which is perfect for this type of material. The characters are also interesting to watch because they're so well-developed and display the kinds of contradictions that are so commonly seen in everyday life. A great example of this is Commissioner Russell who demands that everyone under his control should maintain the highest moral standards at all times and yet, this man who presents himself as a paragon of virtue, is actually involved in an adulterous affair with a married woman. What he learns about himself and others during the course of this drama easily makes him the story's best written and most fascinating character by a considerable distance.

The quality of the acting is particularly good in this movie with Richard Widmark and Henry Fonda both outstanding in their lead roles and some fine supporting performances, especially from Inger Stevens and Don Stroud.
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Between The Killers and Dirty Harry, Don Siegel presents Madigan.
hitchcockthelegend10 August 2012
Madigan is directed by Don Siegel and adapted to screenplay by Abraham Polonsky and Howard Rodman from the novel The Commissioner written by Richard Dougherty. It stars Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, Inger Stevens, Susan Clark, Harry Guardino and James Whitmore. Music is scored by Don Costa and cinematography by Russell Metty.

Plot finds Widmark as Detective Daniel Madigan, who along with his partner Rocco Bonaro (Guardino), loses a suspected murderer who also makes off with their guns. Causing embarrassment to Police Commissioner Anthony Russell (Fonda), who is hardly a fan of Madigan's methods, they are given 72 hours in which to locate the escapee and bring him in. But as the two men go in search of the crim, Commissioner Russell has various other problems to address, both at work and with matters of the heart. Last thing he needs is a volatile Madigan screwing things up...

Based on a book called The Commissioner, a film originally titled the same, and the most interesting story thread in the picture is that of Henry Fonda's Commissioner! Then why is the film called Madigan, who is an interesting character that really is only second fiddle in this particular Don Siegel orchestra? It is one of the odd and frustrating things about the piece, the story is complex enough without being unsure who to focus on, a shame because Widmark, Clark, Fonda and Whitmore are doing sterling work for their under pressure director (Siegel was constantly fighting with producer Frank P. Rosenberg).

The themes at play are deliciously enticing, infidelity, police corruption, family strife, friendship, loneliness and identity etc etc, threads are dangled and given thoughtful dialogue passages. But hang on! Wasn't there a murderer on the loose at the beginning of the film? Half way through the piece I had forgotten about Steve Ihnat's crim that opened up proceedings, surely that can't be right? Film looks terrific at day time, though, where Metty's bold Technicolor photography really gives the New York locations a sense of 70s wonder (I know it's a 60s movie but it feels very 70s, and in a good way as well), though Costa's score is far too blunderbuss for narrative themes.

It's a mixed bag, a film you just know should be better considering the talent in front of and behind the cameras. Ideas at core are strong and worthy of filmic adaptation, while the last quarter is electrifying and crowned by a classic foray into film noir territory. But really this is recommended as just above average entertainment for the cop/crime movie fan. 6/10
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Mixed bag, but interesting bridge between classic film noir and modern crime films
a_chinn1 April 2018
Directed by Don Siegel who had a foot firmly planted in classic Hollywood and who was also a trailblazer in modernizing American action films, "Madigan" serves the perfect bridge between the two. Co-written by Abraham Polonsky, who'd previously been on the Hollywood Blacklist for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, the film follows two different NYPD police officers. One is Madigan, a tough no-nonsense detective played by Richard Widmark trying to catch a killer, and the other is the straight-arrow police commissioner, Henry Fonda, who's balancing justice, politics, and an extra-marital affair. The film was based on a book titled "The Commissioner" and Fonda's character was the original focus of the story, but the producers instead changed the focus to Widmark's Madigan character, so the film unfortunately ends up a an odd combination of two different stories. Both Fonda and Widmark's stories involve them having to balance their work-life and home-life, but neither of those story elements seemed all that interesting. The most interesting part of the story concerned Widmark and his partner, Harry Guardino, on the trail of criminal Steve Ihnat. Watching Widmark and Guardino push the boundaries of acceptable law enforcement in their investigation makes this film an interesting bridge to director Don Siegel's controversial and highly influential vigilante cop film "Dirty Harry" he'd make a few years later. Siegel also makes great use of NYC locations that give ether film added grit and realism, much like we'd later see in William Friedkin's "The French Connection" and Siegel's use of San Francisco in "Dirty Harry." Siegel also skillfully demonstrates his own directional action sequences chops with a memorable showdown in the film's finale, which features with three characters in tight quarters, all with John Woo-style double-fisted pistols in each hand. Overall, "Madigan" features an old style police detective story (with a nice plot nod to Kurosawa's "Stray Dog") that abandons the stylistic German Expressionist roots of American film noir and instead takes the genre into new more realistic and gritty of territory, even if those stronger elements get somewhat undone by dull and unoriginal subplots involving the marital lives of Madigan and the commissioner.
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The detective story
jotix1007 July 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"Madigan", the Universal film of 1968 surfaced recently on a classic cable channel. Directed by legendary Don Siegel, and based on a novel by Richard Dougherty, with and adaptation by Abraham Polansky and Howard Rodman, proves to be a trip back to that era of the New York of the 1960s where crime took center stage for the police. There are two main stories in the narrative, one involving a team of detectives and the other about the police commissioner who finds himself in a dilemma as he finds out his best friend in the force has been involved in a shady deal.

The detectives Madigan and Bonaro come to pick up Barney Benesch, a criminal, who is being sought in Brooklyn as a witness for a crime. The two irrupt in the apartment where Benesch is in bed with a young woman. He outmaneuvers the detectives, fleeing with their weapons, an embarrassing position for the lawmen who become the target of all jokes in the department.

Anthony Russell, the commissioner, is told as he arrives in his office about the investigation that points out one of his colleagues, chief inspector Charles Kane has engaged in a shady deal which appears to be a criminal act, something a person in his position is immediate grounds for termination. Russell and Kane go way back in the police department. Russell, a decent man must get to the bottom of the situation to determine whether the chief inspector has to go.

Don Siegel shot the film using locations in New York. The screenplay adaptation was written by Abraham Polonsky, a veteran of Hollywood, who was a good director himself and Howard Rodman. The emphasis of the action revolves around Madigan and his partner Bonaro, but another, probably more interesting film would have been made from the conflict between the two friends in higher places. Russell is no saint, he was having an affair with a socialite, but basically is a decent man. Kane, on the other hand, was just a good police officer whose whole family had been involved in the force in several positions.

Richard Widmark does a wonderful job as Madigan, a man who has problems of his own, with an unsatisfied wife who is more interested in having fun, which her husband was not able to provide. Henry Fonda plays the upright commissioner with his usual easy way for giving a good performance without even trying. James Whitmore is Kane the man who makes a mistake and lives to regret it, thinking he has jeopardized his friendship with Russell. Inger Stevens' Julia is a tad exaggerated, not feeling real. There are interesting supporting roles.

The film had locations in New York City and Brooklyn, but it is obvious studio sets stand for real Manhattan streets. The final sequence was filmed in Los Angeles. Russell Metty, the cinematographer shows the New York of the late 1960s with flair. The music score is by Don Costa.
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Tough Widmark!
shepardjessica1 August 2004
A fine, harshly realistic Don Siegel film from the late 60's with Richard Widmark superb as Madigan. Steve Ihnat (from THE CHASE) is also a perfect twisted and aggressive villain with able support from Harry Guardino. The lovely Inger Stevens is touching in one of her last roles before her untimely demise.

A 7 out of 10. Best performance = Steve Ihnat (who died too young). Don Siegel made a lot of good films and this is near the top of the list. One of the pro-cop films before Dirty Harry blasted it open. Once again, Inger Stevens will break your heart near the end of this and she never looked more beautiful in her all too short career. Well worth anyone's time.
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More Bark Than Bite
ccthemovieman-113 October 2006
An interesting cast that include a couple of my favorites made me enthused about watching the VHS of this in '90s, several decades after seeing it in the theater when it came out. Boy, what a disappointment. Despite the cast, I found it to be somewhat boring. Only the beginning and the last 10 minutes of the film had any action. You'd expect more out of a tough crime story.

The rest of the time was spent with soap opera material such as unhappy police wives, or the now-cliché good cops get harassed by their boss, the key cop is a corrupt one and the lead cop is totally misunderstood. Oh man, have we seen a lot of this crap since this film came out!

No, this turned out to be an overrated film.
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Corruption Starts At (Or Near) The Top.
rmax30482319 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This movie should be dedicated to Virginia Gregg. I don't care what anybody says. She's Esther, the secretary who tries to prevent detectives Widmark and his partner Guardino from searching the premises of a certain Mr. Castigliano. She's been in lots of movies and TV programs. I counted them, and they add up to one hundred thousand and forty six. She stands out because her roles are always small, stereotyped, and immediately forgettable -- a beacon for all of us.

The sardonic Widmark and the affable Guardino have been surprised by a killer and had their guns taken from them. The killer escapes. They have seventy-two hours to find the miscreant, Ihnat. They wind up chasing leads all over New York city and finally wind up cornering him, not that he's going to give up without the requisite shoot out.

Don Siegel knows how to direct thrillers like this. Four years later he'd come up with "Dirty Harry." He's really quite good in this genre. There are moments you wouldn't expect from a humdrum hack. When the two detectives have been thoroughly chewed out and dismissed for their botch, they return glumly to the precinct and Guardino calls his wife, explaining that he may be late. She complains. Widmark calls HIS wife, Inger Stevens, and she carries on about the new dress she bought for tomorrow night's party. When he hangs up, he and Guardino sit silently at their desks, staring at one another. Nothing is made of that shared understanding. It only lasts a few seconds. But it's an expression of at least a modest directorial talent.

While the two non-commissioned officers struggle through the next few days, we discover that moral mistakes are being made at the top. Fonda is the Police Commissioner, not a nasty character but by the book. He's just found out that his best and oldest friend, Chief James Whitmore is on the tab. But Fonda himself is obeying a hypothetical imperative. He's schtupping somebody else's wife, Susan Clark, a real stunner, on the sly, while pretending to be so principled. In a way, the corruption-at-the-top business is a little distracting, like the Gloucester/Edgar narrative in "King Lear," and I wish this tale had stuck with Widmark and Guardino.

At the same time, Fonda and Whitmore add a layer of irony that adds a bit of ironic texture to what otherwise might be a simple cop story. Widmark sees an old flame too, Sheree North, but he's true to his wife. North unzips her dress with one hand over her shoulder and the other twisted up behind her back. That's a special talent. Men can't do that.

I'm not sure what the moral of the story is, or if there is one. The only character who evolves in an important way is Henry Fond'a police commissioner, who finally compromises when he realizes the world isn't a simple Manichaean one of pure good versus pure evil.
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dougdoepke18 October 2015
Considering all the talent involved why is the film as disappointing as it is. Start with a script that can't decide whether it's third-rate soap opera or second-rate police drama, with enough trite sub-plots and dialogue to border on self-parody. Fleshing out the private lives behind the badges may be a workable idea, but here the many subplots detract rather than add to the overall effect. Then there are the performances. Widmark's aging Madigan appears not so much a burned-out case as an expressionless cypher, whose presence leaves the audience with nothing much to root for, and a long way from Widmark's usual intensity. Then too, whose idea was it to have the street tough Madigan go through an embarrassingly bad comedy scene with Henry Fonda that should have stayed on the cutting room floor. There's also Fonda's turn as police commissioner, a role that must have required him to swallow an ice cube first and a lemon second, because throughout, he appears too frozen to unbend and too sour to smile, a combination that results in a grimly overdone portrait of moral rectitude. (Just the thought of his character coupling with Susan Clarke is about as plausible as pairing Cher with Jerry Fallwell.) In fact, the entire cast apart from the poignant Inger Stevens, appears to be doing their scenes by the numbers, which is technically the fault of director Don Siegel. Except Siegel is a Hollywood master, who ordinarily directs with style and verve, and specializes in police-action dramas; yet here, with the exception of the shoot-out, there's none of the usual snap or polish. My guess is he took one look at the script and went for the payday, as did everyone else. I suspect too -- as another reviewer points out -- that the film's basic problem lies with the studio, Universal, which only recently had specialized in Doris Day comedy fluff. Here however it's 1966-67 -- city ghettos are on fire, change is in the air, and Hollywood is trying to play catch up. Though praised at the time, Madigan is now little more than proof of how painful the process was.
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Manhattan Melodrama
writers_reign16 September 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Despite being slightly unbalanced - it was based on a novel entitled The Commissioner in which the detective Madigan was a subsidiary character - this is still an excellent police drama deftly handled by Don Siegel, who managed to find roles for two of his favourites, Susan Clark and Don Stroud, both of whom appeared that same year in Sigel's Coogan's bluff. One thing the screenplay needed to get around was the story of Henry Fonda's Commissioner Anthony X Russell, whom the novel had revolved around, and who scarcely came into contact with Madigan. Fonda later claimed that he signed the contract under false pretenses, assuming that he would have the main role; however, having appeared with Widmark in Warlock and having respect for the actor he remained in the lesser role. In actual fact the two characters meet only fleetingly so that the impression is that we are getting two films for the price of one. Despite the slight disappointment of this we still have a fine, entertaining movie to enjoy.
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Flawed in places but overall a damn good cop movie
revtg1-318 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
A good, solid cop story made believable by the solid performances of Widmark and Fonda. Steve Ihnat, an unknown, steals the show as he creates the character Barney Benesch. Benesch is the most cold blooded, asocial, homicidal animal you ever saw. Vicious, insane, suicidal and homicidal. He is never without a .45 in each hand even while carrying a sack of groceries. Good scene: Widmark and his partner spot a guy in a booth in a bar that they think might be Benesch. When he expresses his resentment over being harassed, Widmark tried to brush him off by saying, "I'm sorry. You looked like some guy from Cleveland." The guy jumps out of the booth and attacks them, shouting, "Nobody tells me I look like I'm from Cleveland." The weak point in the movie comes when Widmark and his partner corner Benesch in a small apartment and he is behind a refrigerator with a pistol in each hand daring them to "come and get him." Just before they go in a uniformed cop offers them bullet proof vests, which they refuse. NO cop would do that. And if he did he would be immediately removed from duty for a psych exam. So they go in, guns blazing, while Benesch comes out, guns blazing. Stupid end to what could have been a much better movie. But still worth watching because of a superb cast.
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A blend of location and backlot shooting
oliver-1776 October 2005
This is a very "late '60s" detective drama, and if you're in the mood, it will hit the spot.

What struck me, and it has not been picked up by other posters, is the very visible difference between the majority of the scenes, shot on authentic NYC locations, and a few scenes straight from the Universal backlot, on urbanistically nonsensical streets with no gutters.

The studio shot scenes (and the school-of-Lalo-Shifrin score) increase the impression that you are watching a first class TV movie. It all makes you hungry for a dinner in a foil tray.

Definitely entertaining, in a period way.
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Pedestrian cop drama elevated by cast and production values.
Poseidon-321 April 2003
Landing in theatres two years before "Airport", this seems, at times, to be a template for the later, more glossy film. Where "Airport" dealt with the myriad problems of the airport manager and one of the pilots (including the halting of a deranged bomber), this film covers the myriad problems of a police commissioner and one of the detectives (including the capture of a deranged killer.) It also has the similar elements of a secret affair with a younger girl and a dissatisfied, social-climbing wife. Widmark even looks through a curtain the way Dean Martin did during one sequence. All that's missing is Helen Hayes in a tweed coat and a brown hat with a pom-pom! (This comparison actually sheds less favorable light on "Airport" since IT came later and was clearly inspired in it's direction and format by this film.) Widmark plays the title role, a detective who, with his partner Guardino, allows an unbalanced killer to steal his gun and break free from custody. The pair have 72 hours to bring the guy in or face reprimands. This does not sit well with Widmark's bored wife Stevens, who has been planning to make a splash at a party which falls during this 72 hour period. Presiding over the department is Fonda, who is worried that a long-time cohort (Whitmore) has gone dirty and who drowns his sorrows in the cleavage of young, married Clark. The story threads take place separately until, like "Airport", they converge at the end. The film opens excitingly enough with a showdown leading to an NYC rooftop. Location work throughout adds to the aura of the film. Widmark and Guardino (in the last glory days when detectives still wore suits, ties and HATS!) make an intriguing pair of cops, with Guardino coming off especially authentically. (In a less authentic moment, the film asks the audience to believe that a woman pushing 30, and in bed with the suspect, is really jailbait.) Things quickly get bogged down when Widmark comes home and has to deal with the lovely, but shrewy Stevens. Her role is horribly cliched by today's standards. Maybe it was less so then. Still, Stevens manages to inject some degree of empathy along the way and even gets to wear one of those sky-high, late '60's hairdos that defy gravity. Meanwhile, Fonda wrestles (tiresomely) with his doubts about Whitmore, all the while maintaining a stoic, one note expression and seemingly walking through the film. His icky relationship with Clark (35 years his junior!) provides neither titillation, nor insight into his character. Clark's role is pretty thankless and she still has some unaccounted-for residual British accent leftover from her studies in England prior to this. There are small, but solid turns from various other character actors including North as a torch singer and Warren Stevens as a bachelor on the make. Stroud gives a hammy, bizarre performance as an informant, but even he is outdone by Ihnat as the killer. Ihnat's loud, inexplicably salivating character is never adequately explained and is under-presented to the point where his apprehension isn't as climactic as it ought to be. Incidentally, the ending of this film could not be more telegraphed. Clues are dropped in the audiences lap, one after another, like breadcrumbs as the climax approaches. In all, it's a slick, visually interesting film with some good acting, tempered by some vague scripting, alternately hammy/wooden portrayals and a layer of rigor mortis over it. It came at a time when police dramas had one foot in the "Dragnet" door and the other pointing towards "Dirty Harry". The conglomeration of the two approaches isn't always a comfortable one.
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Top 1960's Police Action Drama
sol-kay20 October 2003
Man hunt in New York City for cop killer by the two detectives who let him slip out of their hands with a number of sub-plots. The police commissioners adulterous affair, his top deputy's son being busted, and a civil rights leader trying to keep the lid on a possible summer race-riot gives more depth and dimension to the movie instead of confusing it.

Super cast with Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, James Whitmore and the beautiful and tragic Ingar Stevens in one of her last acting roles before her death in 1970 makes "Madigan" better with every new viewing.

One of the first big city crime films using actual New York City locals to give it authenticity by director Don Siegel. "Madigan" possibly inspired Siegel's later Clint Eastwood big city movies "Coogan's Bluff" and "Dirty Harry". With a final shoot-out that many police officers an combat veterans, and they should know, feel is the most realistic gun battle ever seen in a movie. And last but not least, that stirring "Madigan" movie soundtrack heard all through the film that gives it that zip and energy and is one of the reasons that "Madigan" still stands up to the many crime movies and police TV shows made since "Madigan" was released back in 1968.
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Widmark's 'Tony Rome'
HotToastyRag17 October 2022
Spanning a weekend in the career of the titular cop, Richard Widmark doesn't always play by the rules. When he tries to make an arrest, but the man steals his gun and escapes, it's a bit embarrassing. The police commissioner, Henry Fonda, is righteous and doesn't approve - but he has two skeletons in his closet. First, he's having an affair with a married woman, Susan Clark; second, his close friend James Whitmore, the chief inspector, was caught on tape taking a bribe. Meanwhile, Dick has marital trouble with his shallow, needy, immature wife, Inger Stevens. She's been a cop's wife for decades, and she still complains that he has to work late and can't escort her to a party!

Richard Widmark really carries this movie. Henry Fonda is his usual lackluster self, Inger Stevens is laughably bad, and the production values feel like a canceled 1970s tv series. Actually, it could have been turned into a series, since there were so many plot lines involving different characters as well as an abundance of crime in New York that could have carried out season after season. If you're a Widmark fan, you can try this movie to see what he might have done with the Tony Rome movies. If you're not, you're better off skipping it. Cop dramas of 1968 weren't generally very good, save No Way to Treat a Lady and The Boston Strangler.
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Fonda leavens the mix with class.
g-hbe17 September 2019
MADIGAN (Henry Fonda, Richard Widmark, Harry Guardino 1968) Directed by Don Siegel, who was to give us Dirty Harry a couple of years later. I've always avoided this film in the past, as I suspected it would be like many other cop films of the period and play like an over-long TV drama. In the event I enjoyed it, despite it ...looking like an over-long TV drama. On the good side we have Richard Widmark's excellent performance with the equally good Harry Guardino as his buddy. On the very good side we get Henry Fonda, who turns in a cool, measured piece of acting as the ramrod-straight Commissioner with more than enough on his plate. Overall it's a bit episodic as the main plot concerning a simple manhunt is interrupted by side-stories and domestic goings-on, but still the film remains highly watchable. My main gripe is the over-use of incidental music. The big-band jazz-based music by Don Costa is very good, but it pokes its nose in when there should be silence and intrudes very loudly at times. Many films of this period seemed somewhat overloaded with music, so I suppose it was just of its time.
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Don Siegel paved thru Madigan the forthcoming Coogan's Bluff and Dirty Harry!!!
elo-equipamentos10 November 2019
Madigan offers to us an unusual kind of cinema, leaving the studios sets and bringing to the streets the action, New York wasn't a security place to do that, however they overcame the problems and finish the movie in L.A. but just the final ending, Don Siegel impose a strong developing of the main characters, Madigan (Widmark) doesn't follow the book, also accept a bit bribery as a simple favor, instead of the Commissioner Russell (Henry Fonda) who avoid of all these gifts, he rules over the book, when he has a tape recording at his hand over his old pal and his subordinate Chief Charles Kane (Whitmore) who was involved with bribery, he has to faces this unexpected matter, in other hand Madigan and his partner Bonaro (Guardino) letting escape with their guns a dangerous killer, they has three day to settle this otherwise they will be in a tight spot , this movie paved to Siegel a solid career on forthcoming projects with Eastwood partnership as Coogan's Bluff and later Dirty Harry all them in same line of Madigan!!!


First watch: 2001 / How many: 3 / Source: TV-DVD / Rating: 8
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Excellent police crime drama
Woodyanders30 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Maverick veteran detective Daniel Madigan (a superb and credible performance by Richard Widmark) and his equally seasoned partner Rocco Bonaro (well played by Harry Guardino) have to catch maniacal psycho Barney Benesch (a memorably edgy turn by Steve Ihnat) with 72 hours. Meanwhile, stern by-the-book police commissioner Anthony Russell (Henry Fonda in typically top-drawer form) has personal and professional problems of his own. Director Don Siegel, working from a gripping and thoughtful screenplay by Howard Rodman and Abraham Polonsky, relates the compelling story at a steady pace, makes inspired use of authentically gritty New York City locations, grounds the plot in a thoroughly believable harsh urban reality, maintains a serious no-nonsense tone throughout, and stages the rousing climax with tremendous skill and aplomb. Moreover, this picture acquires additional depth, substance, and even poignancy by showing the troubled private lives of the main characters in a convincing and straightforward manner. The uniformly stellar acting by the first-rate cast qualifies as another major asset, with especially commendable work by Inger Stevens as Madigan's fed-up neglected wife Julia, James Whitmore as the amiable, on the take Chief Inspector Charles Kane, Susan Clark as Russell's classy mistress Tricia Bentley, Michael Dunn as antsy bookie Midget Castoglione, Don Stroud as excitable low-life informant Hughie, and Sheree North as sultry nightclub singer Jonesy. Russell Metty's no-frills cinematography further enhances the overall stark realism. Don Costa's spirited score hits the stirring spot. A worthwhile action thriller.
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" Twenty Years on the police force, . . . You'd think I'd learned something "
thinker169114 August 2011
Few movies ever filmed with so many of Hollywood greats ever failed to entertain. This story is a fine example. Based on the novel 'The Commissioner', but renamed " Madigan " for the screen, this movie has it's foundation for a later T.V. series. With the late great Richard Widmark leading this police story and with a supporting cast led by Henry Fonda, how could this action-oriented vehicle not be exciting. Richard Widmark plays Det. Daniel Madigan, a veteran of the police force and his equally experienced partner Det. Rocco Bonaro,(Harry Guardino) set out to apprehend a crafty, skillful and extremely dangerous murderer named Barney Benesch (Steve Ihnat). With the help of a beautiful naked woman, Benesch not only manages to get away, but with the Dectective's personal guns as well. Henry Fonda plays Commissioner Anthony X. Russell, who has to the deal with everything from the escaped fugitive to the diplomatic handling of irate citizens as well as personal troubles in and out of his life. The excellent cast includes, James Whitmore, Michael Dunn, Warren Stevens, Raymond St. Jacques and Don Stroud. Directed by Don Siegel, who will later combine with Clint Eastwood, to create other memorable Classics, has this is sure among those greats. ****
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