Directed by Antonio D'Ambrosio. (2017/98 min).
When we hear the name, Serpico, the first image that always comes to mind is Al Pacino. The 1973 film had such a lasting impact on popular culture that it's easy to forget Frank Serpico is a real guy.
He's in his 80s now, and lives a relatively quiet life compared to his tumultuous police career. But when asked, he still has a lot to say about it, personal insights that no dramatic depiction - no matter how well made - can possibly convey. The documentary, Frank Serpico, catches up with the former cop, as well as ex-partners, friends and the prosecuting attorney who worked closely with him when he blew the whistle on the massively corrupt NYPD.
Though much of the film focuses on those years when he risked his life for a principle, this is also a biography of Frank himself. We learn about his childhood and upbringing, as well as the years after his retirement (he remains an activist and speaks out in support of various causes). Still, Serpico's historic clash with the NYPD remains the most interesting part of the film and hearing it from the horse's mouth is nearly as fascinating as the classic movie that made him a household name. We also get the impression that, decades later, Frank Serpico still feels lucky to be alive.
|Sitting at Starbucks, Frank spots another Starbucks.|
Ultimately, Frank Serpico tells a story we've heard before, but getting it directly from the man who lived it - and those he was close to - provides a unique perspective (he's also quick to refute some creative liberties taken by director Sidney Lumet). This is a documentary well worth checking out and would make a great double feature with the 1973 film.
PURR-R-R...LIKE A GOOD SCRATCH BEHIND THE EARS