It's a hot summer day in 1933 in South Philly, where 12-year old Gennaro lives with his widowed mom and his ailing grandpa, who sits outside holding tight to his last quarter, which he's ... See full summary »
Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio,
On the day that a serial killer that he helped put away is supposed to be executed, a noted forensic psychologist and college professor receives a call informing him that he has 88 minutes left to live.
A young boy dies from a stray bullet during a shootout between a cop and mob family member who had previously been supiciously given probabtion, only to break its terms. New York's Deputy Mayor, Kevin Calhoun starts digging for information.Written by
Being a transplanted New Yorker, I might be more critical than most in watching City Hall. But I have to say that before even getting to the story itself I was captivated by the location shooting and the political atmosphere of New York City that Director Harold Becker created.
For example there's a reference to Woerner's Restaurant in Brooklyn where political boss Frank Anselmo likes to eat. There is or was a Woerner's Restaurant on Remsen Street in downtown Brooklyn when I lived in New York back in 1996. It was in fact particularly favored by political people in the Borough though they did have a couple of other hangouts.
No surprise because the script was co-authored by Nicholas Pileggi who still writes both political and organized crime stories. He knows the atmosphere quite well and he sure knows how those two worlds cross as they do in this film.
A detective played by Nestor Serrano goes for an unofficial meeting with a relative of mob boss Anthony Franciosa and things erupt and three people wind up dead, including an innocent 6 year old boy whose father was walking him to school. The story mushrooms and at the end it's reached inside City Hall itself.
Al Pacino plays Mayor John Pappas and John Cusack is his Deputy Mayor a transplanted Louisianan, a state which has a tradition of genteel corruption itself. He's the outsider here and in trying to do damage control, Cusack finds more than he bargained for,
Danny Aiello plays Brooklyn political boss Frank Anselmo and for those of you not from New York, his character is based on the late Borough President of Queens Donald Manes who was also brought down by scandal. He's very much the kind of Brooklyn politician I knew back in the day whose friendship with organized crime and favors done for them, do Aiello in.
City Hall was the farewell performance on film for Anthony Franciosa, one of the most underrated and under-appreciated talents ever on the screen. No one watches anyone else whenever he's on.
Al Pacino's best moment is when at the funeral of the young child killed, he takes over the proceedings and turns it into a political triumph for himself. His is a complex part, he's a decent enough man, but one caught up in the corruption it takes to rise in a place like New York.
For those who want to know about political life in the Big Apple, City Hall is highly recommended.
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