7.6/10
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54 user 37 critic

Prince of the City (1981)

R | | Crime, Drama | 21 August 1981 (USA)
A New York City narcotics detective reluctantly agrees to cooperate with a special commission investigating police corruption. However, he soon discovers that he's in over his head, and nobody can be trusted.

Director:

Sidney Lumet

Writers:

Jay Presson Allen (screenplay), Sidney Lumet (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 4 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Treat Williams ... Detective Daniel Ciello
Jerry Orbach ... Detective Gus Levy
Richard Foronjy ... Detective Joe Marinaro
Don Billett Don Billett ... Detective Bill Mayo
Kenny Marino Kenny Marino ... Dom Bando
Carmine Caridi ... Detective Gino Mascone
Tony Page ... Detective Raf Alvarez
Norman Parker ... Assistant U.S. Atty. Rick Cappalino
Paul Roebling Paul Roebling ... Assistant U.S. Atty. Brooks Paige
Bob Balaban ... Santimassino
James Tolkan ... Assistant U.S. Atty. George Polito
Steve Inwood Steve Inwood ... Assistant U.S. Atty. Mario Vincente
Lindsay Crouse ... Carla Ciello
Matthew Laurance ... Ronnie Ciello
Tony Turco Tony Turco ... Socks Ciello
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Storyline

New York City cop Daniel Ciello is involved in some questionable police practices. He is approached by internal affairs and in exchange for him potentially being let off the hook, he is instructed to begin to expose the inner workings of police corruption. Danny agrees as long as he does not have to turn in his partners but he soon learns that he cannot trust anyone and he must decide whose side he is on and who is on his. Written by Josh Pasnak <chainsaw@intouch.bc.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A cop is turning. Nobody's safe.

Genres:

Crime | Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | Italian

Release Date:

21 August 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

El príncipe de la ciudad See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,600,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$64,713, 23 August 1981, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$8,124,257
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Sidney Lumet said that he did not want to take a directorial stance about whether or not the leading character was a hero or a villain. He wanted to leave that question for the audience to decide for themselves. See more »

Goofs

Gino Mascone's wife's name is listed as Ann in the credits, but she is repeatedly referred to and addressed as Rose in the film. See more »

Quotes

Daniel Ciello: You bastards, it's, it's you guys who run the whole fucking thing! You run it! Starting with assistant DA's who plea bargain murder one down to a misdemeanor. Or lawyers wearing 400 dollar suits who come up to cops in hallways and say, "Hey pal, listen, this case doesn't mean shit. Here's 50 dollars. Here's a hundred dollars. Five hundred dollars. Fifteen thousand dollars. Fifteen thousand dollars! Fuck, I mean, we know how you guys become judges. You pay 50 thousand and zap you're wearing ...
[...]
See more »

Alternate Versions

The film originally premiered on TV in a version broadcast over 4 hours (running no longer than 196 minutes), including previously unseen material which had been cut from the 167-minute theatrical release. Among the restored scenes is one that makes more sense of the DiBenadetto Case (the character Ciello's first rat-job). See more »

Connections

Referenced in Law & Order: The First 3 Years (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Love Will Keep Us Together
(uncredited)
Written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield
Performed by Captain & Tennille
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent Film, Unflinchingly Realistic
27 September 2004 | by louiepattiSee all my reviews

Much has been made of this film's brilliance and how it was glaringly ignored at that year's Oscars. It richly deserved the awards it never received. Its realistic, gritty feel comes from the fact that the movie was lifted straight from the book, with only name changes. The viewer is drawn into the unraveling world of a narcotics' policeman as he recoils in disgust from what he does to maintain his squad's phenomenally high arrest rate, i.e., stealing, bribing, corrupting themselves to nail the corrupt. Cielo first targets people far from him but then the circle tightens until he fingers his own men. For a cop to rat on fellow cops is a deeply ingrained anomaly, an affront to the ties that bind the police in a brotherhood deeper than blood. The direction is great, the dialog heavily laced with coarse language that deepens the realism, and the acting is fantastic. Treat Williams never again received a role nor gave a performance that approached the stellar proportions of this one. Jerry Orbach is so immersed in his part that Dick Wolf cast him as a homicide detective for Law & Order based on seeing his acting in this movie. All of the characters are three-dimensional, human and evoke emotions. Some are admirable, others pitiful, some are despicable. Though long, Prince of the City is never boring, and it leaves its moral dilemmas largely unanswered, letting the viewer sort out who did the right thing. This film was made by Sidney Lumet as an apology to the NYPD for his hatchet job in Serpico. It succeeds in more ways than mere atonement; this movie is superior to its predecessor in many ways and was inexcusably blown off at that year's Academy Awards. Still powerful and has aged well, even if Treat Williams and Lumet haven't.


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