Night Falls on Manhattan (1996) Poster

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Sydney Lumet looks into honesty and corruption again.
mnfried14 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
The theme of corruption is examined in almost every Sydney Lumet film. He is fascinated by power and the use and misuse of it. The cast of this character-driven film is played to perfection by Andy Garcia, James Gandolfini, Lena Olin, Shiek Mahmud-Bey, Ian Holm, Ron Leibman, Richard Dreyfuss, Sam Vigoda and Paul Guilfoyle. They are all in the same gut-wrenching movie about the prosecutors who do not operate in a black-and-white world, rather in one of shades of gray. There are two especially touching relationships. One is between a father and son, the other is the love story between Andy Garcia and Lena Olin that survives this very tense and complex situation in a film about an important subject. I recommend it.
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At what price justice?
George Parker25 March 2003
In "Night Falls on Manhattan", Garcia plays a rookie NYC District Attorney who finds himself struggling to cope with moral dilemmas and compromised principles in the "real world" of lawyering. Offering a solid cast with good performances, this Hollywood tinged film builds quickly and maintains momentum while digging into fundamental issues which bedevil characters from cops to judges in their personal and professional lives. Worth a look for anyone into dramas, especially those dealing with questions of ethics. (B)
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Must see for any law student:
maureenwheat12 November 2006
The plot was predictable; what was VERY good is the realistic sour compromises that atty's make. that alone warrants this movie as MUST SEE for students. I went to St.Johns University (undergraduate legal education), as did Sean Casey (AndyGarcia) No punches were pulled there, and that was reflected in the protagonist effort to make ethical decisions. There was one line that summarizes so much: "...if you want clean hands, become a priest. The degree to which police, criminal attys, DA's and all parties with knowledge about a criminal action get ugly is very true. This hopefully will take the hot air out of many law students, puffed up with him or herself. Well done and accurate, even if predictable. The DEVIL is in the movie detail.
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Thought Provoking, Intelligent & Entertaining
seymourblack-17 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
"Night Falls On Manhattan" is a fascinating movie about police corruption, political rivalries and personal loyalties and the ways in which they affect the workings of the justice system in New York City. The point that this drama makes most powerfully, however, is that in order to achieve anything within the system, compromises, deals and trade-offs have to be made and that inevitably,cherished principles and moral absolutes often have to be abandoned in the process. The experiences of a young and rather naive Assistant D.A. are skilfully used to illustrate some of the ethical dilemmas that have to be confronted as he learns how to survive in his chosen profession.

Two New York detectives on a stakeout are given a tip by an informant that a drug dealer that they're interested in, is currently in the building that they're watching. Detective Liam Casey (Ian Holm) promptly rushes into the building to make an arrest and his partner, Detective Joey Allegretto (James Gandolfini) follows a little later after having called for back up. Officers from three precincts respond to the call for assistance but the operation ends disastrously as Casey is shot and critically injured, three other officers are killed and the drug dealer, Jordan Washington (Shiek Mahmud-Bey), embarrassingly manages to escape in an NYPD squad car.

Washington, under the supervision of his lawyer, Sam Vigoda (Richard Dreyfuss) turns himself in to the police and New York D.A. Morgenstern (Ron Leibman) swiftly appoints one of his most junior assistants, Sean Casey (Andy Garcia) to prosecute the case. Casey is very inexperienced but Morgenstern calculates that it will play well with the media if the wounded detective's son is involved in the high profile trial. This appointment also neatly avoids Morgenstern having to give the case (and any potential kudos that might be gained) to his senior assistant, Elihu Harrison (Colm Feore) who is a fiercely ambitious man who intends to stand for election against him at the next opportunity.

At Washington's trial, Vigoda claims that his client had been paying protection money to the police and when another drug kingpin had offered to pay them more, he refused to get involved in a bidding war. This, he believed, made him a target and as he was convinced that the corrupt police were out to kill him, Washington had simply acted in self-defence during the raid on his apartment. Washington claimed to have been paying money to officers from the same three precincts that were involved in the shootout at his building and also said that one of the corrupt officers was Kurt Kleinhoff. Despite Vigoda's accusations, Sean Casey discredits Wahington so successfully that a guilty verdict and sentencing soon follow.

Casey's victory in court wins him valuable publicity and so when D.A Morgenstern suffers a heart attack and has to stand down from his job, Casey wins the election to be his successor. At this point, things seem to be going perfectly but matters soon take on a different complexion after Kurt Kleinhoff's body and a book containing the names of a number of officers from the same three precincts that were involved in the shootout are found. This triggers an Internal Affairs investigation which brings to light some matters that threaten to unravel the case that brought Casey all his success and point the finger of suspicion at people who are close to him. The ways in which this highly principled man responds to the various improprieties that are unearthed seriously tests his integrity and leads him to recognise the value of pragmatism.

This movie is full of really strong characters that are brought to life very convincingly by its talented cast. Andy Garcia does a good job of conveying the range of emotions that Sean goes through on his journey from being an impractical idealist to achieving the kind of maturity that enables him to navigate his way through some difficult situations. Ron Leibman is terrific as the wonderfully hyperactive Morgenstern who's very adept at manipulating events to suit his own purposes and Richard Dreyfuss also impresses as a defence attorney with a personal agenda. Ian Holm and James Gandolfini are also very good in their supporting roles.

"Night Falls On Manhattan" is a criminally under-appreciated film that's not only thought-provoking, intelligent and realistic but also thoroughly entertaining to watch.
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Lumet redux- Municipal corruption aplenty
george.schmidt11 April 2003
NIGHT FALLS ON MANHATTAN (1997) *** Andy Garcia, Richard Dreyfuss, Ian Holm, Lena Olin, James Gandolfini, Ron Leibman, Shiek Mahmud-Bey. Excellent, gritty and absorbing crime drama dealing with Garcia as an assistant DA who becomes an overnight sensation after tackling a disturbing case of a drug dealer killing three cops on a raid gone awry that leads to a sticky web of corruption, lies, deceit and ultimately personal integrity. Garcia and Holm as his cop father, give superb performances as does Leibman as his teeth gnashing mentor (a delightful to watch turn) and Gandolfini as Holm's partner with some skeletons in his closet. Based on Robert Daley's book `Tainted Evidence' and adapted by the film's director Sidney Lumet with colorful panache of a true helmsman. – Letterman stooge Leonard Tepper is an extra in the jury (!)
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If you want clean hands, become a priest
lastliberal14 April 2008
Fascinating story of politics and justice in New York, or anywhere else for that matter. Most don't realize that on 3% of murder cases ever see a jury; most are plea bargained. But, there are those, like the one depicted here, that are essential, not for justice, but for the political ambitions of the DA and Mayor.

Sidney Lumet (Find Me Guilty, Dog Day Afternoon) likes working with ethical questions, and he did a good job here in presenting a world that is not black and white, but gray.

I generally do not like Andy Garcia (Ocean's Eleven, The Godfather Part III) or Ron Leibman (Zorro, the Gay Blade), but that may be because of their politics off the screen. It affects my judgment. I have to say that they both gave interesting performances that made this film worth watch. But, there were a lot of good stars in this film: Sir Ian Holm (Chariots of First) as Garcia's father, James Gandolfini (Tony Soprano) as a corrupt cop and Holm's partner, Richard Dreyfuss (Mr. Holland's Opus, The Goodbye Girl, Jaws) as a liberal lawyer, Colm Feore (Bon Cop, Bad Cop, The Red Violin, Chicago) as an ADA that wants the top job, and Lena Olin (Enemies: A Love Story, Chocolat, "Alias") as the love interest.

Very good acting throughout and a compelling story.
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Interesting movie
butchfilms19 December 2008
I liked this film, this is not a great movie but it's a good one, and the most important thing was that it didn't bore me for a moment.

The performances are good, the plot is interesting and clever. What I didn't like about it was that the shots of the film looked like a movie made for TV.

The plot is about how Sean Casey ,an assistant district attorney working for just six months, improves very fast in his way up at his job but he is going to discover many dirty things about policemen and politics and is at this point where he will have to make difficult decisions that will put in text his principles.

If you like intelligent police or court movies, this one is for you.
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Good movie that was based on The Larry Davis Story
glory2godpd1 November 2004
This film is definitely based on the Larry Davis incident that took place in the late 80's where corrupt cops tried to shake down a drug dealer who wanted out of their "system"(dealers who payed off cops to rob other dealers). When he got out due to the death of his infant daughter, they invaded his home, he fought back by killing and wounding some officers and escaped leading to a dangerous manhunt in NYC. When they finally caught him (an old family relative snicthced on him), false accusations were brought up by the police and the media to portray him as a ruthless thug who ran away after killing the cops when all he wanted to do was leave the organization involving crooked cops and drug dealers. He is still serving time in Rikers Island fighting for a new trial.

Check out the documentary called THE LARRY DAVIS STORY which won an award for Best Documentary in the Urbanworld Film Festival in 2003.

However, it serves well on film and Sidney Lumet is great act capturing the look and feel of NYC in the early 90's. It has a "Prince of the City" feel to it.
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Lumet and the cast shine...
x111b382514 August 2003
I really have no idea what motivates Sidney Lumet's choice of movies to do, even though I've read his book "Making Movies," which sheds a lot of light on his decision making process.

If I had to take a guess, I might say that perhaps he wants a variety, and doesn't calculate the risk involved with certain works that have obviously turned out to be major flops. Or maybe he does know the risk and he just doesn't care. Now remember, though I'm sure even the "master" critics have jumped on and trashed some of his better work, if you place something like "Prince of the City" or "Equus" next to "The Wiz," "Running on Empty" and "Serpico" next to "Critical Care," wow! I mean you are just asking for trouble.

Regardless, this guy is a filmmaker.

As with anything, there are people who will dog this and say it was slow and Lapaglia was over the top or whatever the multitude of criticisms may be, "the lighting created an unwanted mood" (by whose standards), "the script had flaws" (oh did it? What were they?) and the list goes on. However without getting into every nook and cranny available, I will just say if you enjoy a good drama, you may enjoy this.

For the decent side of Lumet's work, this is a pretty fair example and on every front, I think it works out okay. Do I have any criticisms? None worth more than "I liked it or didn't." I did in fact like it by the way. It might be considered standard fare or even dated a bit by some and as a result, not as powerful as it might be otherwise, but it is a good example of Sidney Lumet's better filmmaking and not a bad story to boot.

Dig Colm Feore's role here. I like this guy and though he's probably found in the shadows more than in the spotlight, he is one vastly talented actor. I caught him last year in the lead for "My Fair Lady" at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada and though he really probably is an acquired taste, he is a talent to be reckoned with for sure. It would be nice to see him garner larger roles since talent like this sure seems wasted on bit parts.
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Searing, highly intelligent crime classic
Sydney Lumet's Night Falls On Manhattan is the kind of morally complex, daring, emotionally charged, all out classic that most films of its type wish they could be. It explores police corruption, double standards and hypocrisy in the justice system so unnervingly that by the end of the film we as an audience don't have a clue where to position ourselves or who to root for. Perhaps this is why it was so overlooked, people just got too scared by the provocative, damaging implications of the subject matter, and chose to gloss over it. Shame. It is one of the most mature films I've ever seen about the tough subjects it tackles, never shying away from the blunt, unsolvable problems that this justice system raises, and never solving the, itself in the film. The truth hurts, as the characters find out. Andy Garcia, an actor I usually don't like too much, is excellent as an idealistic young law grad who suddenly finds himself in the spotlight when the trigger happy hound dog DA (Ron Leibmann in a hilarious, manic, spellbinding performance) chooses him to prosecute a murderous drug kingpin who gunned down several police officers and badly wounded one who happens to be Garcia's father (Ian Holm). The plot doesn't follow any cinematic or genre conventions, but seeks to overturn them, creating a searing, realistic narrative and ruthlessly throwing its characters into situations that no human being should have to endure, but situations that are ultimately of their own flawed design. It's an absolute dynamite and comes up strong in every category. Ian Holm, a British thespian, nails every scene with a lived in, authentically brilliant performance, and breaks your heart with his Everyman desperation and anguished soul. James Gandolfini is reliably awesome as his partner. I have no clue why this film slipped through the cracks, but like I said before, it probably scared people with its unflinching, uncompromising and bitter indictment of our deeply flawed Justice system. Personally, I feel like we need more movies like this, a breath of un-clichéd, truth hurts fresh air filmmaking and a welcome addition into the NY crime drama sub genre.
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It's not
Mankin11 February 1999
"Night Falls on Manhattan" (meaningless title:**1/2 out of ****). A politically ambitious chief district attorney (Ron Leibman) assigns an upcoming young assistant D.A. (Andy Garcia) the task of prosecuting. Things proceed so smoothly in the first hour for our young hero that you just know that embarrassing revelations are going to come crashing down around him in the second hour, which they do.

This is familiar turf for veteran filmaker Sidney Lumet, and he has made a fairly compelling film, despite the miscasting of British Holm and Cuban Garcia as father and son, respectively, although Holm does manage an amazingly authentic Queens accent. Leibman overacts outrageously as the head D.A.; one wonders how anyone as abrasive as he is would be able to get so far!

Some sequences are a little too pat for comfort. Still "Manhattan" makes for engrossing if predictable drama, exploring once again the extent to which the cumbersome wheels of justice have to be manipulated. Richard Dreyfuss is pretty good in a surprisingly small role as the drug dealers's Dershowitz-like defense attorney, who turns out to be more willing to bend the rules than you would expect, considering his primary motive for taking the case.
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Andy Garcia miscast
wfrost30 November 2010
Andy Garcia is a great actor, but casting a Cuban American as an Irish American (Sean Casey), is too much of a stretch. Ian Holm, a Brit, plays his father (Liam Casey), and no one would visualize the two as father and son. It is no coincidence that he was cast previously as a person of Mediterranean or Latin American heritage. Otherwise a fine film about New York police, divided loyalties, the illegal drug business, the corruption drug money makes possible, and the ethical consequences that involve everyone knowing of the crimes committed. "Night Falls on Manhattan" contains a good plot from the novel by Robert Daley and has a strong supporting cast with James Gandolfini, Richard Dreyfuss, Lena Olin, Dominic Chianese, Shiek Mahmud-Bey, and Paul Guilfoyle.
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a hot steaming turd of a movie
devaryap19 January 2006
Sure, Ebert and other failed-novelist intellectuals will cream over this movie ---"Roger, a big thumbs up, its a tough insightful look into the criminal justice system." All it gives you an insight into is the right-wing hysteria of that noted auteur of the courtroom, Sidney Lumet. Once again, he sets up a bogus straw man into order to wax rhapsodic over the forces of law and order. This time, its a monstrous drug dealer (black, of course) who is on trial for killing three police officers. His flamboyant, crazed-radical criminal defense lawyer(is there really any other kind in the world of Hollywood?) whines that the baddie had no choice but to gun down the cops since they were involved in the drug rackets with him and they were aiming to blow him away first.

Of course, this is an absolutely ludicrous argument, but Lumet urges us to take it seriously so that when the conviction comes down, we can rejoice, Himmler-style, in the grandeur of the thin blue line. Old Lumet sets up the old straw man and knocks him down. What a hack.

Probably the most offensive moment in the film comes when our fearless young protagonist, assistant DA Sean Casey (Andy Garcia) meets with the crazed-radical criminal defense attorney Vigoda (Richard Dreyfuss). While they are both in a steam room with wet towels draped over their shoulders (a Roman motif or a bit of unacknowledged homo erotica?), Vigoda confesses that he too has a deep affection for LAW AND ORDER and he solemnly intones, "Sometimes I think that we have to give up on an entire generation and lock them up and throw away the key." Well, you don't need to read to carefully between the lines for the answer to "A generation of whom?" Why those bad minorities of course who Vigoda and Casey agree, sotte voce, must be dealt with harshly, given that their naughty drug dealing and assorted criminality upset National Security State, which of course putters along fine in the face of corporate scandals. The day that Sidney Lumet whines about the corporate scandals that have engulfed our society is the day that I begin to take him seriously.

Sidney Lumet, in The Verdict, Q and A, Prince of the City, and now Night Falls on Manhattan, along with other "tough and gritty" movies, has demonstrated that he a vulgar buffoon is incapable of or unwilling to learn about the American legal system. He fawns upon power, and unspools magic theories about the careful deliberations that attends its use. Our packed prisons are eloquent testimony to the just how much deliberation the powerful exercise when it comes to the lives of the weak.

It the meantime, he endlessly denigrates the criminal defense bar and by extrapolation, those hapless suckers too poor and unconnected to avoid criminal prosecution. No doubt, he is considered part of "liberal Hollywood," and would self-identify himself so. If he is indeed a liberal, the governing assumptions that he buys into show just how little discourse there is in our society, particularly on the criminal justice system.
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"Nobody's Perfect."
Robert J. Maxwell10 July 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I, who know nothing, am sitting there watching these events unfold after having missed the first couple of minutes, including the credits. It begins with a horrific shoot out involving a black drug dealer and an absolute horde of confused NYPD cops milling around and shouting at each other. A couple of cops are dead, another wounded. The drug dealer disguises himself as a cop, coolly enters one of the squad cars and drives away.

Later he surrenders himself under the legal guidance of Richard Dreyfuss. As soon as Dreyfuss and the black dealer show up, the cops go ape, bust the windows of the car, and beat the crap out of the dealer as they drag him away like a lynch mob gone wild.

Newbie District Attorney, Andy Garcia, wins the case against the dealer, who is sentenced to life without parole. Garcia's father was the old cop wounded in the shoot out, and it's partly because of Garcia's status as victim that he wins the case and the office.

He's an idealist, always a bad sign. And when he begins to look into the context in which the shoot out occurred -- the dealer trying to save himself from crooked cops out to kill him -- the trail is long and winding and eventually the cool arms of the law begin to enfold his own father.

By this time, I'm thinking, "By Gad, this is Sidney Lumet territory!" Not just because of the subject -- police corruption and torn allegiances on the streets of New York -- but because of the detached style in which this dramatic material is handled.

It was, of course, directed by Sidney Lumet, who has an indisputable feel for this sort of stuff. (Makes one wonder about his childhood.) I think, at times, he let's Garcia's quest for perfection get a little out of hand though. Garcia is best at projecting stifled intensity, what with his fevered eyes and unblinking stare, but Lumet may have him shouting when he should be glaring. But that doesn't happen often. Garcia is a likable and thoroughly competent actor and the role suits him. Well, as long as I'm carping, let me add that the name of Garcia's cop shouldn't have been Sean Casey. It should have been Juan Cansino. And men don't embrace or kiss cheeks in Irish families either.

Both Ian Holm and James Gandolfini do quite well in their roles. The latter is an affable cop who cheerfully admits to perjury but, when faced with serious charges, blows himself away after sensibly getting skunked. Ian Holm is really surprising in his range. I mean, the guy is a Limey and still entirely believable as an aging New York cop. Some of the touches he brings to the role are so subtle as to go almost unnoticed. (Eg., when he learns by phone of the suicide of Gandolfini, who was his partner, his elbow slips off his knee an inch or so.) He was even convincing as a treacherous robot in "Alien." I don't know if this production is up there with "Serpico", "Prince of the City", or "Q & A". The script for that last flick is probably the weakest. But, in any case, trying to rank order movies is a hopeless task, each film being made up of its own unique dimensions -- casting, photography, score, performances, locations, and so forth.

Still, Lumet's series on cops in New York is so much better than the typical kind of Manichean garbage on today's screens -- one impeccable hero against an army of venomous villains, not one of whom even has a stamp collection, just money, power, broads, and evil intent. In Lumet's work, the protagonist finds himself in all kinds of unanticipated morally gray areas. It challenges you. It asks, "What would YOU do under these circumstances?" I can understand why it might generate unease in some viewers.
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Cop Killer!
gavin694223 July 2015
A newly elected district attorney (Andy Garcia) finds himself in the middle of a police corruption investigation that may involve his father (Ian Holm) and his partner.

This was a pretty good film. At first, I thought it was going to be about tracking down and then convicting the cop killer. But we find out that the killing, tracking and convicting are all accomplished relatively quickly, and only serve as a premise to open up the idea that certain police officers were working with the drug dealers.

This is very well scripted, very well acted. And knowing a little bit about police corruption, the story does not even seem far fetched. Though it does have its darkly comical moments, such as having the killer strip naked for reporters.
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Breaking the Habit
Raul Faust27 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Well, I saw "Night Falls on Manhattan" last week, and one thing that really impressed me was the GREAT acting. We have a nice story going on, which involves corruption, honesty and justice, but what makes this film really interesting is the performance of Ron Leibman. His character and acting simply steal the show, in a way that you feel right to either love or hate him. Morgenstern is a grumpy prosecutor that tries everything in order to stop criminality in the New York City, which is very contextualized, since that was the main ideology utilized by Rudolph Giuliani in the same place and time. There are some twists over here and there, and albeit the plot is engaging and coherent, we don't have a that great storyline, reason why I'm not giving it anything higher than a seven. As a lawyer, I may admit that it's good to see that movies like this still try to show a lesson about honesty, given that our career has a bad reputation in most part of the world. We have to start ourselves if we want to live in a better world, and that lesson can be learned in "Night Falls on Manhattan".
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Another Lumet must see
videorama-759-8593912 September 2016
Here's yet another film with a too low IMDb average. Really 6.6. I'm so glad I came to view this film, a few years back. I just came to view it again, where I enjoyed it as much as last time. I love Sidney Lumet films. He makes good ones, rarely a bad one. I mean, he gave us Network, Equus, Family Business, and the lesser known, Guilty As Sin. This is just another one that holds up to the others, and another one on Lumet's notch of good films. This one has been constructed gingerly, attentively, as far as plot and story goes. One would even say judiciously, with great performances to boot, Dreyfuss, and Ron Leibman, a scene stealer, and terribly underused actor, most of his stuff t.v. related. Corruption runs high in a few cop beats, where Garcia's cop father (Holm, really good) is shot badly by a burst of machine gun fire, when a drug bust goes bad. Three beats were called in, where there should of only been one, which leads us to consider a few bad apples were involved. Even Garcia's father could be bad too like his partner and childhood mate, Joey (the late great Gandofini) a modest performance. Garcia, an ex cop, now a promising lawyer, is assigned to this criminal case, by Leibman who runs a law firm, to the disgust and anger of a slick lawyer adversary, Colm Feore (just another top form performance here), where the big black drug dealer, a nasty piece of work in a quite threatening performance, by Shiek Mahmud- Bey is caught, so it's really gonna get heated in that courtroom, where you don't want this black dude mad. Garcia's amusing remark, a moment I loved, sealed that deal. The turning point or second story, let's call it, takes off when a black book is recovered from one of the dead cops in that failed bust, a number of cops names including Holm's, all supposedly on the take are in there, and things get really juicy, plot wise, which sees Garcia back in the court room. This film has really been constructed thriller wise, as many characters, mostly the ones in question, aren't telling us everything. Dreyfuss's admittance about his teenage daughter to Garcia in those spa room scenes was something unexpected too. The film is very well written, all of it, it's treatment, etc, all shaped to perfection, solely by Lumet, the first scene in the lecture room, with budding lawyers, grabbing us straight away, with in your face frankness. The film has a very well researched feel, Garcia's performance though, not as good as the others. The character's choices and their situations, make sense, and we very well understand. If you're a cop and you go crooked, well the ball's in your caught, baby. Highly underrated and very much recommended cop/courtroom drama, Dreyfuss's performance as the black guy's defendant, the one you'll remember. He's brilliant.
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"Which corners can be cut?"
Predrag13 June 2016
If you enjoy straight-up, old-style dirty cop/courtroom stories, this may be the last of the great ones, filmed in 1997. Sidney Lumet directs. There are some really fine, passionate scenes that make you care about the characters. Three-fourths of the plot is roughly predictable, but this movie has the glow of being a fine, original, boiler plate version for many cop stories to come. Moody jazz trumpet score, including songs by Wynton Marsalis. And wow, what a cast: Andy Garcia, Ian Holm, Lena Olin, Richard Dreyfuss, James Gandolfini, Dominic Chianese. What more can I say?

This movie introduces you to the complexities of the judicial system. It starts with the idealistic view. It leaves you to make the choice of what is right and what is wrong. You'll have to decide for yourself what is or would be justice. From the politics, the backroom deals and the downright corruption it's all there. It certainly isn't pretty because nobody's perfect. The acting is great but I've always felt Andy Garcia is a fine actor. The entire cast was well chosen and you feel their emotions and believe them as their character. The story moves along well and there are enough twists to keep you interested. This isn't a movie that leaves you cheering for more. It does however make you think about the complexities of justice. When your outside looking in things always look different than when you are inside looking out.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10.
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Night Falls on Sidney Lumet.
Python Hyena25 December 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Night Falls on Manhattan (1996): Dir: Sidney Lumet / Cast: Andy Garcia, Ian Holm, Richard Dreyfuss, James Gandolfini, Lena Olin: There are no surprises in this film. Just facts. Two cops are killed with another in serious condition prior to the arrest of a drug dealer. He turns himself in and Richard Dreyfuss acts as his lawyer. Andy Garcia is the son of the injured officer who runs for District Attorney. Several officers were involved with drugs and Garcia fears that his father was among them. Compelling with an ending that travels a wayward path. Sidney Lumet's films often analyze society's defects. He previously made such acclaim films as Dog Day Afternoon and Network. Garcia is effective as a man torn between his job and his doubts towards his father's innocence. Richard Dreyfuss steals scenes as an opposing lawyer who takes a chance on what could be a losing case. Ian Holm plays Garcia's father who recovers from injury but rendered innocent due to questionable law. James Gandolfini plays his partner who is also guilty. Lena Olin plays a member of the legal team who begins an affair with Garcia. While production isn't as highlighted as other films by Lumet, it does question the state and condition of our law enforcement. Themes regard police corruption as when night falls on Manhattan the true nature of these people come into view. Score: 9 / 10
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"I'm sorry, what did you say?"
herlenwein14 February 2004
This is a good film but I found myself hitting the "back" button on my remote more than once; in fact quite a bit. Dialogue is mumbled or muffled, by many of the actors, throughout the whole film. It's a shame because a lot of this fidelity problem occurs at key points in the storyline. I was sorry I was'nt viewing a DVD, instead of VHS, so I could turn on the subtitles. The irony here is that a courtroom playback of a police radio call-in which should sound garbled is absolutely and incorrectly clear as crystal. The acting is great but the casting of Andy Garcia as the son of Ian Holm is a bit of a stretch. I guess he takes after his departed mother. Ron Leibman is really "over the top" as the District Attorney. James Gandolfini and Richard Dreyfuss are totally credible in their respective roles as cop and defense attorney. Lastly there's Lena Olin who, though underused here, can add class and beauty to any film. She deserved a bigger part. All in all with Sidney Lumet directing this is a worthy film and if you live in New York City you will appreciate it even more.
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Garcia should be indicted for this performance
Nat Williams13 November 1999
Andy Garcia stumbles in this drama about an idealistic cop-turned-lawyer who prosecutes a celebrated case in which several cops are shot by a drug kingpin.

It so happens that Garcia's pop is one of the cops, and it so happens that Garcia goes up against a flamboyant defense attorney (played believably by Richard Dreyfuss).

While the film has its interesting moments and a modicum of drama, it is crippled by Garcia's over-the-top acting. Did his acting coach tell him that the more you shout, the better your performance?

The plot also suffers from some weaknesses. It is not believable that a wet-behind-the-ears prosecutor, who has been on the job a whole eight months, can be elected district attorney in New York City, regardless of the big case he just won.

All in all, the movie is watchable, though I wouldn't cancel any plans to do it.
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Another good one from Lumet
KGB-Greece-Patras23 May 2003
Only reason I decided to see this is that it's made by S.Lumet. Not something really original anymore, I guess, but quite interesting, it delivers the goods and managed to keep my interest till the end. I have decided to see all Lumet stuff I can. As every Lumet film I have seen, it touches interesting topics with a non-conventional way. Topics here are big drug-dealers & police corruption (again), law system, as well as others.

But I have to say that his CRITICAL CARE (1997, same year) was FAR better , at least for my taste. NIGHT FALLS... suffered a bit from lack of climax near the end, but it was interesting and well made anyway.
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Not So Much a Fall as a Stumble
arieliondotcom13 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
A "film noir" filmed in color, this story about a DA who shoots from being a student to the DA trips over itself from the start with spurts of action mixed with schmaltzy melodrama that comes across ultimately as an overly long TV movie.

The only saving graces are the talents of Gandolfini & Dreyfus but sadly they are on screen far too seldom.

The exciting start is like a colorful cover of a boring book (remember those?). Leave it on the shelf. It's a confused mess which (according to IMDb) had an alternate ending which is apparent not knowing what to make of itself.

Nightfall & darkness is a mercy sometimes.
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Fairly explosive & impressive first half, but Lumet fails to keep the momentum going in the second half.....
jimbo-53-18651117 June 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Andy Garcia plays Sean Casey a lawyer turned District Attorney who is tasked with prosecuting the man that was responsible for shooting his father Liam Casey (Ian Holm) after Casey and his partner Joey Allegretto (James Gandolfini) attempt to arrest drug king pin Jordan Washington (Sheik Mahmud-Bey). However at Washington's trial he reveals some home truths about police corruption which makes this case not quite as open and shut as Casey anticipated.

I think a major problem with a film like Night Falls on Manhattan is that it has such an explosive opening that it's almost inevitable that everything that follows is going to be an anti-climax. The start of the film where the police are chasing Washington was very entertaining - although his actual escape was rather questionable to me. Then we have the trial of Jordan Washington which again was compelling and helped to establish the plot. It perhaps also helped that Mahmud-Bey was great fun to watch during the trial. Despite how good this aspect of the film was this still brought about some problems....

We're told that Casey Jr will be prosecuting the man who shot his father even though he's never worked on a big case before. OK, in the 'real' world this would be a difficult enough task in itself, but Casey Jr is emotionally involved in this trial which would make prosecuting Washington much more difficult. I think it might have been more believable if Casey Jr were to show some emotion or get upset during the trial which would be a believable character trait given the circumstances. Despite the fact that this aspect of the film entertained me I struggled to find Casey Jr's character to be believable.

The film really falls flat on its face after Washington's trial where we're left with about 55 minutes of divulging through all of the elements of police corruption, a ridiculous, bland and unconvincing romance. The police corruption aspect is interesting in itself, but Lumet seemed to offer very little commentary on the subject and with virtually nothing driving the film in the second half it does become quite dull and tedious.

As far as performances go it's really down to Garcia to carry the film and in this respect he's only partly successful; when tough-talking is required he's great, but he shows very little vulnerability and wasn't great in scenes that require him to show emotion. Gandolfini and Holm were good in the screen time that they were given. Mahmud-Bey wasn't given much to do, but he was fun during the trial. Leibman was by the far the worst offender and his over-acting was unbearable for the most part.

I don't want to pan this film too much as I appreciate and respect that Lumet was trying to explain that not everything in life is 'black and white' and that sometimes those that are meant to uphold and enforce the law can invariably be worse than those that are on trial, but sadly this only really hits home at the end. As far as I'm concerned everything from the end of the trial to the final 5 minutes were nothing more than boredom and tedium.
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Intelligent and well acted .........
merklekranz22 March 2010
"Night Falls on Manhattan" seems like a rather generic title for a film that explores the gray area of political and law enforcement corruption. The acting is good, with special mention going to Andy Garcia, Richard Dreyfuss, and Ron Leibman. As for Lena Olin, her character is so unimportant to the overall storyline, that it probably could have been eliminated entirely. After a bang bang beginning, the rest of the movie quietly explores who's on the take, and the back room deals necessary to bring corrupt cops to justice. This process is a real eye opener for Andy Garcia, who plays an idealistic district attorney. - MERK
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