A New York City narcotics detective reluctantly agrees to cooperate with a special commission investigating police corruption, and soon realises 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 »
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

NYPD officer, Daniel Ciello's involved in some questionable police practices. He's approached by IAB, and in exchange for him potentially being let off he's instructed to begin looking at the inner workings of police corruption. Danny agrees as long as he doesn't have to turn on his partners but he soon learns he cannot trust anyone. He must decide whose side he's on and who's 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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Did You Know?

Trivia

The movie features 130 locations and 126 speaking parts. See more »

Goofs

Near the start of the film when Dan is pushing his brother Ronnie around, there's a large crack on the wall (probably from a previous shot). After he pushes Ronnie near the wall, another large crack appears but Ronnie is never shown hitting the wall. See more »

Quotes

Rick Cappalino: I kind of enjoy it when Nancy takes the kids to her folks. I get to go in the kitchen and do it my way, you know? How do you like your steak?
Daniel Ciello: Do it your way.
Rick Cappalino: You like it rare.
Daniel Ciello: What is it? What do you want? I didn't do it, whatever it is. Why don't you do something important, like investigate lawyers. I mean, you were in the Manhattan D.A.'s office, right?
Rick Cappalino: There was never a hint of corruption in that office. Maybe you know something I don't. Danny, you called me. So why are you here? If you know ...
[...]
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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 Inside 'Serpico' (2002) See more »

Soundtracks

Love Will Keep Us Together
(uncredited)
Written by Neil Sedaka and Howard Greenfield
Performed by Captain & Tennille
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User Reviews

accurate portrayal of use and behavior of informants
9 January 2002 | by silboscoSee all my reviews

I've been a defense lawyer in NYC for the past 35 yars. I have more than a passing familiarity with some of the actual trials and appeals generated by Ciello's (Treat Williams' character) testimony. More broadly, I can attest to the accuracy of the film's depiction of the agonies, doubts, remorse and dreads of the turncoat/informant-witness in criminal cases. No film has developed this theme - a very common one in federal criminal trials, but one never visible to the public - as thoroughly as this film. "Goodfellas" devoted a few minutes to this, but only to the witness protection aspect after Henry Hill decided to testify, and never developed the broader, morally ambiguos dimensions of becoming an informer who turns on former close associates.

Nor has any other film more accurately revealed the way government prosecutors deal with their informants, which is not always pretty; often prosecutors treat their informers in ways that paralell the way Ciello treated his junkie informers on the street - he supplied them with drugs when he needed them, but he also abused, ignored or took advantage of their vulnerabilities when the need suited him.

The film also displayed, though it did not emphasize, another aspect of the prosecutor/informant relationship: willful blindness to likely perjury. Here, when Ciello offers to cooperate, prosecutors sternly insist that he tell the whole truth, not just about the crimes committed by others but by Ciello himself. They want to be assured of this not only because legal ethics demand it, but because their cases can fall apart if the defense later uncovers and reveals nasty secrets about the informant to the trial jury to undermine the informant's credibility. Here, as in the actual case, Ciello insisted that he had committed "only three" crimes while a NYPD detective. While prosecutors sensed, but did not actually know, right from the start that this was highly unlikely, and that Ciello was in fact concealing both the number and severity of his past misdeeds, they preferred not to inquire too deeply, and did little independent investigation of Ciello's prior misconduct on the force ("willful blindness"). That came back to haunt them, because after the trials, the defense lawyers dug up many of Ciello's hitherto unrevealed criminal deeds, and severely damaged his credibility, almost fatally imperiling the convictions his testimony had been so helpful in procuring. This film portrays not only the moral dilemma of the informant, but the moral dilemma of prosecutors, who desperately need informants to build their cases, but who have mixed feelings about learning too much about their unsavory pasts.

By the way, the detective played by Jerry Orbach has been a private investigator for the past 20 years or so (though never convicted, he was discharged from the police force); I've hired him, and he is terrific!!


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Spanish | Italian

Release Date:

26 August 1981 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Prince of the City See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$8,600,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$64,713, 23 August 1981

Gross USA:

$8,124,257

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$8,124,257
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orion Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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