The First Deadly Sin (1980) Poster

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Good, but Deadly Intentions
bkoganbing16 September 2007
I saw someone else's user comments on this film and I can't believe that there were going to be series of films based on Frank Sinatra's character mainly because of the ending this film had. If you're thinking that gives the ending away, don't look for an obvious conclusion.

To his credit, I guess Frank Sinatra did not want to end his film career with Dirty Dingus Magee. He wanted to end his film with the serious part, unfortunately The First Deadly Sin messes up the telling of a potentially good tale.

Frank Sinatra is days away from his retirement as a Detective Sergeant and a strange murder has been assigned to him. A man apparently selected at random is killed with an unidentified weapon that is just driven into the top of his skull. A little good detective work and he finds their just might be a pattern of killings.

It's all in identifying the weapon and it's an unusual one at that which I won't reveal. A professor in medieval history played by Martin Gabel helps with the hunt and later on he's joined by the widow of Sinatra's victim, Brenda Vaccaro to help with the hunt.

They're helping because Sinatra's new captain is one total jerk played by Anthony Zerbe. Maybe I'm missing something in Zerbe's performance, but I would think that an ambitious guy like Zerbe plays would instead of pooh-poohing Sinatra's ideas would think that this guy if he is on to something with this serial killer business. And if he's right Zerbe will get all kinds of accolades for figuring this out in his precinct and even more if the doer is apprehended. It's an absolutely impossible role and poor Anthony Zerbe can't do much with it.

All this while Frank's wife Faye Dunaway falls ill to a misdiagnosed kidney malady. She spends all her time in the hospital and Sinatra visits her at breaks in this case.

Frank delivers a very good performance in a role similar to the one he had in The Detective. He's supported by the rest of the cast very well, except with Anthony Zerbe's impossible role. Besides who I've mentioned look for a really nice turn by Joe Spinell as the mendacious doorman where suspect David Dukes lives. His role is similarly undefined, we really never learn why he's doing these crimes.
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a grind
SnoopyStyle14 July 2018
A serial killer is hunting New York City. Grizzled veteran police detective Edward Delaney (Frank Sinatra) is investigating the case. His wife Barbara (Faye Dunaway) is in the hospital. He enlists the help of ancient arms expert Christopher Langley.

Sinatra is playing a tired cop who is distracted by his wife's illness. It does not make for a compelling investigation although it may be more accurate. It's a darker reserved performance. The more exciting character is eager Langley searching for the murder weapon in the local shops. He has a couple of hilarious scenes. Otherwise, this is grinding film about the grind of a grinding investigation. While I appreciate the personal aspect of the wife, it doesn't make it compelling as far as the investigation goes. Although it does not excuse the horrible insult of someone nominating Dunaway as the worst actress. The woman is in bed dying for most of the movie and that's what she gives. This is a bit of a grind to watch but it somehow maintains my attention for the most part.
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Excellent Sinatra Performance Wasted in Boring Film
Michael_Elliott21 December 2015
The First Deadly Sin (1980)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Weeks from retirement, Detective Edward Delaney (Frank Sinatra) is trying to take care of his bed-ridden wife while at the same time trying to figure out who murdered a man with what appears to be an ice ax. Pretty soon it becomes clear that there's a serial killer at work and the detective must try and find out who it is even though he has no one behind him.

THE FIRST DEADLY SIN turned out to be Sinatra's final theatrical starring role and it came ten years after his previous turn in DIRTY DINGUS MAGEE. The film was originally released to rather mixed reviews and it ended up not doing too well at the box office and in all reality the thing has pretty much been forgotten in time. It's really too bad the film turned out so mediocre because with a few fine touches it really could have been something special.

As it is the film is only worth watching thanks to the excellent performance from Sinatra. The actor had played a detective in some of his late 60's films so it's clear that Sinatra was comfortable playing this type of role. It's also clear that the age of Sinatra here had him showing off a certain calm and patience that we didn't always see to him. You can really see the actor slowly working and carefully planning out the characters moves and I think it really makes for an excellent performance. The actor has such a presence on the screen that it's impossible to take your eyes off of him.

The supporting cast includes nice work from James Whitmore, Joe Spinell and Brenda Vaccaro. Faye Dunaway plays the role of the wife and in all honesty she has very little to do outside of acting sick and laying in a bed. This here is the biggest issue with the movie because whenever we flash to her hospital scenes it pretty much kills everything and the film comes to a crashing halt. What's so bad about these scenes is that there's nothing that really happens. Sinatra gives her a flow several times. They talk about the same thing (a house) and there's just nothing here that adds anything to the plot.

It also doesn't help that the direction by Brian G Hutton is so deadly dull. There's no visual style going on. There's never any tension. The movie has a very cheap feel as if it belongs on television. What's worse is that it's pretty out-of-date with the times as it seems like it should have been made a decade earlier. They just don't do anything with the material and even the killer is rather boring.

THE FIRST DEADLY SIN is worth watching because of the excellent performance by Sinatra but sadly there's not much else here.
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Worth watching; Sinatra shines
nogimmicks20 November 2003
Above-average police procedural based on the excellent novel by Lawrence Sanders. The Chairman of the Board delivers a powerful performance as Sgt. Detective Edward X. Delany, and David Dukes's Daniel Blank is suitably psychotic (if a bit tamer than in the novel). Plays somewhat fast and loose with the adaption, but still does the book justice. Like the book, this is somewhat slow paced and character-driven, but Sinatra does such a good job at making Delany human and making the audience emote for him that the shortcomings seem minimal. If you are a fan of Sanders, police procedurals, or Frank Sinatra, then this film is certainly worth checking out.
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Decent Performance From Sinatra In An Otherwise Unexciting Movie
sddavis639 March 2009
Frank Sinatra put on a pretty decent performance here (in what's billed as his last starring performance, although he was in "Cannonball Run II" a few years later) as Edward X. Delaney - a New York City police detective weeks away from retirement, who gets caught up in a murder investigation that his commanding officer (for reasons I never clearly understood) would prefer him to leave alone. Sinatra's performance, though, was really the only thing that made this movie worth watching. The story of the search for the psychopathic killer wasn't all that interesting, and while the subplot revolving around the illness of Delaney's hospital-bound wife (a rather simple role played by Faye Dunaway) took up a fair amount of screen time, it also added nothing to spark the movie, except perhaps to ground Delaney as a loving husband. Delaney does come across as a sympathetic character for the most part, although he's a cop willing to go to any lengths (legal or otherwise) to get this killer. Aside from that there was one very effective scene in which the curator Langley (Martin Gabel) goes to a hardware store trying to figure out what the murder weapon was which added some welcome comedy relief to this otherwise rather poorly structured and poorly paced movie, which I would frankly have to say was one of the least exciting and least interesting murder mysteries I've ever seen.
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Final hurrah for Frank.
jrs-820 July 2001
"The First Deadly Sin" will be remembered as the last starring role for Frank Sinatra. It's a good performance in a decent (but should have been better) film.

Frank plays a New York homicide detective investigating a series of murders. This main story is a good one. It is involving and creepy. David Dukes turns in a terrific performance as the killer. The problem comes in the sub-plot with Faye Dunaway as Frank's dying wife. Every 10 or 15 minutes the film comes to a screeching halt so Frank can visit Faye in the hospital. Faye must have been desperate to work with Frank since she literally spends the entire film in a hospital bed. It's a needless distraction to the main plot.

Still the film is worth watching. Frank is at his gritty best as his whole world falls apart in front of his eyes. The film also does one other good thing. It erased the possibility that the awful "Dirty Dingus Magee" would be his last starring role.
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Has an "on the rush" feel to it.
Rich35928 November 2019
While I love gritty NYC detective films, This one is rather disappointing. The atmosphere is destroyed in the first few minutes intercutting Sinatra's wife kidney operation with the murder of a New York accountant. Unnecessary and repulsive., it takes you out of the suspense. The movie is a shell of the novel on which it was based in which we really get into the mind of the killer and his motives, and how he is swayed into murder for fun by a psychotic girlfriend. This is completely left out of the film, as well as the NYC politics within the police department. We really don't know anything about the killer in the film, and his identification as the killer is ridiculously fast, as well as the conclusion. The film reminds me a lot of Cruising, also released in 1980, which also had a rushed look to it, and felt incomplete. But that is understandable in Cruising because of the gay community protest of the film during location shooting. The First Deadly Sin had no such problems, unless Frank Sinatra who was notorious for being impatient during shoots, refused to elaborate on the location shooting. However, even a mediocre film from the 80's is a hundred times better than the Marvel garbage on the screen today. Their are some great supporting performances by Sinatra's amateur helpers and a sleazy doorman. Overall worthwhile seeing, but not anywhere as good as it should have been
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'Deadly' doesn't begin to describe it. Warning: Spoilers
Lawrence Sanders wrote a series of novels about NYPD detective Edward Delaney; popular in their day, they have not remained in print. Sanders actually gave them sequential titles: 'The First Deadly Sin', 'The Second Deadly Sin', 'The Third Deadly Sin'. The series died before Sanders ran out of sins.

Frank Sinatra was occasionally an inspired actor, although always an undisciplined one. (He snagged the great lead role of Billy Bigelow in the film version of 'Carousel' -- Sinatra would have been brilliant in this part -- but then dropped it when he learnt that the film was going to be shot in two different screen ratios, and he would have been required to do all his scenes twice.) Sinatra's Academy Award for 'From Here to Eternity' was well-deserved, and in my opinion he should have got an Oscar for 'Von Ryan's Express' too, and possibly for 'Suddenly'. However, Sinatra apparently ran out of energy (and talent) before he made the movie version of 'The First Deadly Sin'. This was Sinatra's last starring performance; apparently he'd planned to develop a franchise series based on Sanders's novels, but this movie was such a clanging flop that no sequels were made. Two later friends of mine had worked (before I knew them) on the crew of this film; they've told me that the production was a nightmare, plagued by wrong-headed decisions.

Delaney (Sinatra) is hunting a serial killer while Delaney's wife (Faye Dunaway) struggles with cancer. These two plots never interlink, nor does Sinatra convey any sense of a man torn between two priorities. He just shuttles (in slow motion) between police procedural sequences and hospital sequences.

The killer is known to the audience, so it's no spoiler when I tell you that the murderer is Daniel Blank, a wealthy playboy who has no particular motive for killing random Manhattanites: he just kills 'em for the hell of it. With an ice axe, no less. The killer is played by David Dukes, who filmed his scenes in Manhattan concurrently while starring on Broadway in 'Bent', in which he played an inmate of a concentration camp. Dukes's head was shaved to a tight crew cut for his stage role, but this coiffure was inappropriate for his film role as a murderous playboy, so Dukes plays his scenes in a hairpiece. Which would have been fine, if the film chose not to call attention to the hairpiece. Instead, we get a stupid sequence in which Dukes's hairpiece flies off while he sinks the axe into a victim's skull. Then we get a bad dialogue scene later, explaining why the playboy has a crew cut and why he wears a wig to cover it. Hell toupee. My friends on the film crew told me that the wig fell off by accident, and then the dialogue was inserted so they wouldn't have to shoot a retake. Frankly, Dukes's performance quite fails to impress me: given the handicap of his inappropriate hairstyle, the casting agent should have chosen another actor (with more hair) instead.

We get an utterly pointless scene in which Sinatra swots up evidence with two civilian volunteers, of the sort whom real police call 'cop groupies'. One of the volunteers is played by Martin Gabel, an American actor who spoke with a pronounced mid-Atlantic accent. (In real life, Gabel described himself as 'affected'.) Gabel's accent was useful in some other roles, but here it's just distracting.

SPOILERS COMING. Sinatra's (very slow) race to find the killer occurs during the week before Christmas, but this has nothing to do with the plot. And the film was shot in late summer, worse luck. (The exterior scenes in this movie show very little snow.) As New Yorkers know, every year during Christmas season -- and *only* during Christmas season -- the Empire State Building's upper floors are lighted green and red. While 'The First Deadly Sin' was shooting principal photography, Sinatra's production company paid some bucks to Helmsley-Spear (the Empire State Building's landlords) to wire up the Christmas lighting a few months ahead of schedule. This *would* have been a very effective device for an exterior shot of Sinatra in midtown Manhattan at night, with the Empire State Building glowing green and red in the background. Instead, after all that trouble, we merely get one quick insert shot of the Empire State Building's upper storeys, lighted in the appropriate colour scheme but with no surroundings -- no context -- at all. This shot occurs immediately before the death scene.

Ouch! The death scene. After nabbing the killer, Delaney goes to visit his wife in hospital. This scene is beyond awful. Sinatra reads aloud from an old-time children's book about two little girls named Sunny and Honey. He reads this awful text in a voice so lethargic, he seems to be on meds. Dunaway remains utterly inert through this scene, at the end of which Sinatra realises she's dead. Of boredom, most likely. Fade out.

I sat through this rubbish only because I know two people who worked on the tech crew. I'll rate 'The First Deadly Sin' just one point in ten.
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"No, I'm in no psychical danger."
lost-in-limbo22 April 2011
A sombre character drama crossed with an old-fashion police detective story is broken up in two parts, as a retiring NYPD Edward X. Delaney is on his last case tracking down a psychotic serial killer while also dealing with his bed-ridden wife (a warm-hearted Faye Dunaway) that's dying in the hospital from an unclear disease. How these two threads are connected isn't really garnished, other than to give the lead character more emotional weight and progressive depth. Instead it just comes across as depressing and somewhat pointless. It manages to hold you there, but not much really happens in this slow-grinding thriller as Frank Sinatra's wearily brooding performance is determined, but filled with melancholy heartache. Ambitious, but unfulfilled and too long toothed is how you can describe it. The narrative just feels incomplete, like it was aiming for something more profound (like the symbolic use of the cross) and mysterious (the killer's motive) but it came away rather puzzling and affected in its intentions. The grungy New York setting is painted with darkness, dreary atmospherics as there's a killer randomly leaving his victims with a hole in the back of their heads. A lot of the running time (and at times it does drag) has Delaney working the case, starting with very little. Putting in the hours, strenuously gathering info, seeking help outside the police force and thoroughly digging in as his personal life begins to crumble. The focus on his sick wife does very little for the story, but it takes up a fair amount of screen time. When Sinatra isn't mugging the screen, there's some able support in the cast; Martin Gabel, James Whitmore and Joe Spinell added some much needed life. David Dukes makes for an effective loony, but his icy character was just felt too one-note. An interesting, but sleepily underdone dramatic thriller.
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A likeable movie brightened by F.S .......
peyman_toossy17 January 2002
I have already seen "Seven", "The bone collector" and "Copycat", so naturally this doesn't seem to surprise me or anything like that, but I had a great time watching Frank Sinatra in his last major movie appearance and was equally shocked to see Faye Dunaway so woefully wasted on a hospital bed and not enough lines for an amateur let alone ... the screenplay is just fine and the supporting characters, esp. that old curator, hit the right notes. Sinatra's strong presence virtually lifts it out of the ordinary.
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Distasteful and long-winded, but not uninteresting...
moonspinner5529 January 2017
Middle-aged talents hoping to keep up with the current tastes in cinema. Frank Sinatra is a police inspector in New York City, just weeks away from retirement, who notices similarities in a series of murder victims: the skulls of the deceased have all been punctured by some kind of hammer, possibly delivered from behind in a cold blow. With so many TV cop shows mining this territory, the only reason for the producers to do a theatrical adaptation of Lawrence Sanders' novel was to get Sinatra on-screen again (he hadn't acted since 1977's "Contract on Cherry Street" for television). You can tell right away director Brian G. Hutton and his editor are aiming low: the opening sequence crosscuts between a violent murder on a dark, cold street and a woman in the hospital being sliced open by surgeons. That woman, Faye Dunaway, plays Sinatra's wife, slowly succumbing to a mystery infection that has already rotted her liver, and it's a humiliating role. Far better off are James Whitmore as a pathologist and Brenda Vaccaro as the wife of a victim. Anthony Zerbe gets stuck with the proverbial hard-ass police commander role (he chews Sinatra out for following the insane 'serial killer' angle), but Sinatra does a good job here, keeping a cool head and carrying most of the picture with his innate panache. ** from ****
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Engrossing murder mystery
Wizard-83 January 2016
Warning: Spoilers
I see by the other user comments here that the majority of viewers seem to think that this movie is bad or mediocre. But personally, I thought that the movie was quite riveting almost all of the way through. Sinatra, in a comeback lead performance after a long absence (though it turned out this was his final lead role in a movie), is very good as a close-to-retirement police officer. He plays the role with appropriate weariness that shows his character has seen it all, but at the same time shows another side to his character, one that is dedicated to his job and wants to exit without any loose ends hanging. The heart of the movie - the mystery of a serial killer - is also well done. Now, I will admit that the mystery unfolds at a VERY slow pace, a reason that many people here cite in their disappointment with the movie. But while the investigation unfolded slowly, it felt realistic to me - most investigations by the police in real life unfold at a careful pace. Also, the slower pace made it very easy to understand the unfolding investigation - there are no confusing portions. Well, maybe there is one confusing part. I won't say what happens at the climax, except to say that Sinatra's ultimate action seems a little out of the blue and doesn't seem to fit what we've seen of his character before that moment. Though this surprise does prevent the end of the movie feeling like the endings of other police investigation movies. Give this movie a chance... though maybe wait until you are in a patient mood to fully appreciate it.
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On the trail of a serial killer
kapelusznik186 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** Frank Sinatra plays the about to put in his papers and retire NYPD Sergeant Edward X Delaney who's obsessed in finding this ice pick killer who's terrorizing the city of New York. The fact that Sgt. Delaney's wife Barbara , Faye Dunaway, is in critical condition and on life support because of a blotched kidney operation doesn't make his task any more easier. It doesn't take long to see who this crazed ice pick wielding psycho is since we see him Daniel Blank, David Dukes, as soon as the film starts as he ice picks to death a total stranger who passes him in the street.It's Sgt. Delaney who later notices a pattern in a number of murders over the last three yeas in the city that fit the same MO or description and realizes they, the victims, were that of the very same killer.

Meanwhil back in the hospital emergency ward Sgt. Delaney's wife Barbara is fighting for her life as her husband seems to be spending far more time looking for Daniel Blanks then with her when in the critical condition that she's in she needed him most. The film centers around the killer's weapon of choice to do in his victims a mountain climbing ice pick that he brains and murderers his victims with. It's in discovering that the killer has mountain climbing experience that narrows down the search in finding him. Sgt. Delaney finally tracks down "Dandy Dan" Danny Blank at his high rise apartment on Manhattan's Upper East Side and plans to arrest him but has no real concrete evidence to do it or make his arrest stick. Bending the law a bit to say the least Sgt. Delaney ends up breaking it to bring Daniel Blank to justice. And it's the fact that Sgt. Delaney worked on this case alone with no one in the NYPD to see what he did and turn him in he ended up getting away with it.

***SPOILERS*** Despite his success in offing the ice pick serial killer in the end Sgt. Delaney ended up losing the person who meant most to him his wife Barbara who died from complications from the blotch operation that was preformed on her. A more mild and mellower Frank Sinatra did make the movie interesting then it would have been in playing his age,65, and not trying to be at least 20 years younger in the role he had. As for Faye Dunaway all she did during the entire movie was go in and out of consciousness and try to look pretty, but as white as a sheet, during the entire time she was on camera. As for David Dukes as the zombie like serial killer Daniel Blank his name, Blank, fit the role he had in his zombie like actions through the entire movie. The biggest surprise is in the end when he finally opened his mouth and told the reason for his murderous actions which made as much sense as the cannibalistic and real life serial killer Jeffery Dhamer reasons for murdering his victims did.
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A realistic detective drama
HotToastyRag13 September 2017
While the heart of The First Deadly Sin is a detective crime story, part of the movie is a tender and unusual romance. Frank Sinatra stars as a tired, not very young detective who tries to solve a murder he's been given very few clues to go off of. Sometimes in detective movies, once a clue clicks into place, an arrest is quickly made afterwards. In this one, Frank and his co-workers exhaust themselves to find out exactly what a clue means, and how to prove it actually is a clue, which is both realistic and well written.

When not on the clock, Frank visits his wife Faye Dunaway in the hospital. She's had a difficult operation, and their scenes together are tender, sad, and touching. He brings her little presents, she tries to seem like she has more strength than she feels, and the audience can see both their pain. These scenes, although terribly sad, are the best parts of the movie. But it also makes for a pretty heavy storyline, so if you're going to watch this one, make sure you have some Kleenexes nearby.
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Intriguing and suspenseful thriller about a NYPD Lieutenant tracks down a homicidal murderer
ma-cortes21 July 2020
A serial killer is stalking New York, Edward X. Delaney (Frank Sinatra) is a NYPD Inspector who is assigned the mission to investigate , as he is tracking down an apparently motiveless killer . Meantime, he is worrying about his spouse (Faye Dunaway) becoming increasingly unhealthy after a kidney operation was wrong . Delaney has to investigate if the victims somehow linked and what does the brutal method of death signify. He's searching for a killer. She's searching for a miracle .... And time is running out.

Thriller and exciting movie with a skill intrigue , suspense , chases , grisly killings and religious imagery . However , failing to convince due to dull and tiring scenes about the sad illness of the unfortunate wife . Concerning a simple and ordinary plot about a police inspector , nearing retirement , tracks a serial killer who is terrorizing New York . Frank Sinatra gives a nice acting as a detective who is attempting to put together the pieces of a confused case in spite of his impeding retirement and wife's sickness . Based on the bestseller novel written by Lawrence Sanders' that seems to be a lot more interesting than this picture . The picture is acceptable though the plot about the ill wife results to be entirely superflous and boring . As the relationship between the Police Inspector/Frank Sinatra and his wife/Faye Dunaway haunts the script and seems to have been inserted totally for sentimental reasons . Starring duo are accompanied by a very good support cast such as : David Dukes , George Coe , Brenda Vaccaro , Anthony Zerbe , James Whitmore , Martin Gabel , Victor Arnold , Eddie Jones , Jeffrey DeMunn and Joe Spinell.

It packs an adequate musical score by Gordon Jenkins with plenty of intrigue and suspense . As well as atmospheric and appropriate cinematography by Jack Priestley . The film was well handled and professionally directed by Brian G. Hutton ; however , being a flop and failed to give cash . Hutton started his career with little and prestigious films , such as ¨Wild seed¨ and ¨The Pad¨. There after , he veered off into big budgeted and all-star movies, proving which he could handle big scale production , as ¨Where the eagles dare¨, one of the best from Alistair McLean , furthermore with ¨Kelly's heroes¨ added humor to the warlike action . His next picture was ¨High road to China¨ marked a partial return with panache to his previous form . This ¨The first deadly sin¨ faltered at the Box-office , in spite of being an entertaining thriller well starred by Frank Sinatra and with occasional touch of directorial skill , that's why is a must for Sinatra fans .
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A confounding film to watch, several good ideas gone to waste.
tonypuma9 October 2005
The First Deadly Sin is a startlingly incongruent mix of 80s vigilante cop and old fashioned gumshoe thriller. It doesn't make a lot of sense, but there's some tension built up in between the general scenery-chewing of Sinatra and others. One wonders exactly what made Sinatra think this was a good idea- he appears pretty bored throughout the film, perhaps shooting for a Philip Marlowe weariness and falling very short. The overall tone of the movie emphasizes the darkness and bleak surroundings of the city, and admittedly the lighting and tone is very dramatic. Sinatra plays a senior police officer in New York who is just about to finish up the job and retire when a strange random murder appeals to him and he becomes the only cop who sees a pattern. His wife, played by Faye Dunaway, is hospitalized throughout the film and Sinatra's character visits her frequently to try and cheer her up as well as criticize the doctors for not doing enough for her.

The supporting cast fills in lots of gaps here and makes this fit in, albeit very strangely, with the NYC exploitation style that was current at the time. The great Joe Spinell shows up as a doorman, James Whitmore as the coroner, Brenda Vaccaro, Robert Weil, Eddie Jones, Victor Arnold and even a one-second appearance of Bruce Willis in his first film role. We see the horribly typical subtle racism of Jews and Latinos in New York City being displayed by stereotypes, as well as other policemen shown as haggard and corrupt, merely to contrast with Sinatra's "white knight" character. Sinatra is shown as the anachronism within the decay of the city- none of the police seem to be able to make any difference, so it takes Sinatra's illegal activities to reduce the story to a simple good vs. evil struggle. Sinatra is so bizarrely set in the story he dresses up like Bogart with a cocked Fedora and even is shown digging up an old Luger to carry in another scene. We never understand why he is so antiquated or what the point is of contrasting him in 1980 Manhattan.

Too many misshapen ideas clog this film-- for instance, why exactly is Faye Dunaway in the hospital throughout the film? There is an insistence on a religious overtone throughout the film (besides the title, there are crosses displayed everywhere)that is never explained. Anthony Zerbe phones in a quick appearance as a police captain who tries to reel in Sinatra, who is retiring in mere days from decades on the force. If it weren't bad enough that Zerbe appears needlessly drunk in this scene, his character is supposed to be a no-nonsense captain and when Sinatra asks if he can stay on the case, Zerbe basically says "sure, whatever". The two people who break down the murderer's identity are bizarrely the curator of the renowned Arms & Armor wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the wife of the murderer's first victim! Sinatra merely leaves the scene to let them do the work, appropriately showing his seemingly little concern for the plot of this film.

The First Deadly Sin is a very confusing film with more loose ends than a thread factory. Sinatra picked a very odd piece of work to make his last starring role and there must be some interesting story behind what happened with this obviously well-budgeted film. Sinatra was never an amazing actor but this is just a mess.
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what the...?
boknyc16 December 2006
I recently watched this movie only because it was on my high def station and it "looked" pretty good, but after waiting over an hour to become interested in it, it ended with a confusing and ho-hum climax. Sinatra sleepwalks through the entire movie and looks completely bored. Faye has one of the worst roles in movie history. Can someone explain this ending to me sometime? On second thought, don't bother. If you love Frank and NYC movies from the 80s, this might work for you, but only if you don't mind a story that never really achieves liftoff. The Dunaway role is such a waste of her talent, and him calling her "kiddo" in every scene kind of creeped me out.
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Rehearsals for retirement
dbdumonteil16 January 2011
The plot is derivative and recalls too many serial killer stories .But Frank Sinatra ,portraying a cop nearing retirement ,gives the movie substance ;it's one of his last parts and ,like the character,he seems jaded ,it's a long way from "Tony Rome" or "The detective" .This last affair becomes a last challenge ;he's told that he can give it up but it actually helps him cope with his harsh private life:his wife is seriously ill.Faye Dunaway spends the whole movie bedridden in a gloomy hospital and her husband does not even trust her surgeon.Dunaway makes the best of a thankless part .The scene of the book she used to read when she was a child is a highly emotional moment.
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I wasted my money
johnqdoe7811 March 2006
I am a huge fan of Lawrence Sanders, who wrote "The First Deadly Sin," and I finally came upon the DVD, and was excited to buy it. To me the novel gives equal time to Delaney and Daniel Blank (hey, what a name for the killer), but this film focuses on Delaney and his problems.

I envisioned an actor like Brian Dennehey playing Edward Delaney, a big man with a good heart, very intuitive, and with a big appetite for all kinds of weird sandwiches and always some good beer, not someone like Sinatra, a rather small man.

Sanders is a brilliant writer of weird characters, and Daniel Blank was one of his best. Yet the whole film seems to focus on Delaney and the dying wife.

I would have much liked to have seen the killer portrayed as he was in the book - a man with a good job, a very strange girlfriend, and brilliant in a horrible type of way.

And so slow moving! Lesson learned, never see a movie after you've read the book.
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Not bad but not good
mm-399 February 2003
This film is on A&E all the time. While having the flu and not able to sleep late one night I finally watched it. Not a bad performance by Frank, but a weak story. Shocking in its day, but tame by todays standards. It begins strongly, but bogs down in the middle. A few tense scenes near the end. A good film to watch drunk or if you have the flu. 5 or 6 out of 10.
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above average crime drama
disdressed1212 April 2009
int his police drama,Frank Sinatra plays a police detective just weeks from retirement,trying to solve a string of murders and stop the murder from killing again.there's another little subplot thrown in that has nothing to do with the rest of the movie,but is merely added to make the film more interesting dramatically,at least,i think that's the reason.Sinatra is very good here,and really the only central character.the rest of the cast are in supporting roles or extended cameos.anyway,the film does's very atmospheric,and the tone is one of almost melancholy,but it works vote for The First deadly Sin is a 6/10
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The First Bruce Willis role
lastliberal14 April 2007
I was a big mystery fan. Lawrence Sanders was one of the many authors I read, and The First Deadly Sin was a great book. But, like all good books, they usually don't translate well to the screen.

This was no exception. The movie just didn't have the punch of the book. Frank Sinatra was getting old (this was his last starring role). Faye Dunaway's performance was so bad that she was nominated for a Razzie(Losing to Brooke Shields for The Blue Lagoon).

He didn't have any lines, but this was Bruce Willis' first film.

This movie would certainly have turned out differently if the first director had been able to stick around. Roman Polanski had been hired but was dropped when the scandal broke about his statutory rape charges.
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Sinatra knew when to hang it up and call it a career.
planktonrules3 December 2022
"The First Deadly Sin" is Frank Sinatra's final starring role in a full-length movie. This is after a ten year absence from films...which is sad, as he was a terrific actor.

Sergeant Delaney (Sinatra) is a police veteran who is nearing his retirement. His final case involves a psychopath who killed a victim with an ice axe...the type tool you'd use in ice caving. It's not surprising it takes him a while (and with some help) figure out the weapon, as it's not exactly an everyday tool or murder weapon. After seeing another similar case, Delaney starts to wonder if a serial killer is running loose in New York City. Amazingly, his boss orders him NOT to pursue this...and just wrap up the case quickly. So, he decides to investigate on his own and he soon sees there is a pattern!

In addition to this case, Delaney is having problems at home. His wife (Faye Dunaway) is in the hospital, and regardless of the doctor's reassurances she'll get better, she isn't. Can Delaney manage to work the case without his wife's problems overwhelming him?

Of all the many wonderful roles Sinatra played, I think his very best were often his detective films...particularly "The Detective"....a ridiculously underrated movie. Here, he acts much like the same sort of character, trying to navigate a system where others don't seem to care. Here, his world-weary but decent detective persona is every bit as good as it was in "The Detective"....and it's nice to see the man chose to quit films after this, as topping it sure would have been difficult.
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Strays to far from the original novel.
eldredjames9 April 2004
This is the worst adaptation of a novel I have seen to date. I recently started reading Sanders' novels. This was my first. I thought it would be fun to watch the movie so I got it from Netflix.

What a disappointment. The screenplay artfully removed all the interesting story weaving; the jumping back and forth from killer to cop; the character development and motivation.

The movie is so fragmented I doubt anyone who hadn't just read the book will have any idea what is going on. Especially so with Delaney's helpers and the approach to solving the crime. This is no doubt one of the reasons current novelists try to keep approval rights when their books are converted to screenplays.

The only bright spot, if you catch it, is a young extra named Bruce Willis who walks through one scene.

My advice? Don't bother with this one. Read the book.
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the first deadly sin was the screenplay
EastCoker31 December 2000
i'm a huge sinatra fan but this film is embarrassingly bad. the first deadly sin was the screenplay; the second was sinatra phoning in his performance; the third was the silly waste of faye dunaway in one of the most melodramatic and prolonged hospital death scenes (the whole movie, basically) in film history. also ridiculous was sinatra's character's unorthodox and laughably amateur investigaory methods which would have resulted, in court, in the perp's attorney filing endless motions to supress.....jeez, delaney, does the word "warrant" ring a bell? even before a decade of 'law and order' taught us some of the hard facts and intricacies of the criminal justice system and its rules of evidence, we generally knew that the circumstances of evidence collection are crucial to their being admitted in a court of law.

contrived scenes, contrived confrontations, phony emotion, and a series of totally contrived plot devices made this a dreary movie indeed. and sinatra, usually so passionate, nuanced, and present in his roles, looked glum, subdued and very unhappy to be there. like his real emotions and energy were with some other personal reality, not the role of delaney.
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