DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
NIGHT FALLS ON MANHATTAN (director/writer: Sidney Lumet; screenwriter: based on the novel "Tainted Evidence" by Robert Dailey; cinematographer: David Watkin; editor: Sam O'Steen; music: Mark Isham; cast: Andy Garcia (Sean Casey), Ian Holm (Liam Casey), Ron Leibman (DA Morgenstern), Richard Dreyfuss (Sam Vigoda), Lena Olin (Peggy Lindstrom), James Gandolfini (Joey Allegretto), Colm Feore (Elihu Harrison), Shiek Mahmud-Bey (Jordan Washington), Dominic Chianese (Judge Impelliteri), Jude Ciccolella (Lt. Wilson), Jim Moody (Mayor Williams), Anthony Alessandro (Shmuel); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Thom Mount/Josh Kramer; Paramount Home Entertainment; 1996)

 
"About New York City police corruption."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

A gripping at times Sidney Lumet ("The Group"/"12 Angry Men"/"Prince of the City") written and directed film about New York City police corruption. It's based on the novel "Tainted Evidence" by Robert Dailey. The pic is inspired by the Larry Davis incident that took place in the late 80's, in the Bronx, where corrupt cops received payoffs from the drug dealers to operate and then tried to assassinate Davis after a business fallout. It resulted in a number of police casualties and the arrest of Davis.

Idealist Sean Casey (Andy Garcia) is a new trial lawyer working for the dynamic veteran DA in Manhattan, Morgenstern (Ron Leibman, giving a winning fiery performance). Sean is an ex-cop and his father Liam (Ian Holm) is still on the force as a detective after 36 years. When Liam and his affable partner Joey Allegretto (James Gandolfini), after a tip from a snitch, try to take dangerous wanted Harlem drug dealer, Jordan Washington (Shiek Mahmud-Bey), in his apartment, without backup, Liam is shot three times and three precincts respond. Jordan escapes, but he kills two cops and one cop is killed in friendly fire during the confusion. Jordan hires grandstanding radical defense attorney Sam Vigoda (Richard Dreyfuss) as his lawyer and surrenders to the DA.

Fearing his rival in the DA office, the Ivy Leaguer Elihu Harrison (Colm Feore), will run against him and if chosen to prosecute this slam dunk case will use his victory for campaign advantages, Morgy therefore stunningly appoints the inexperienced Sean to prosecute and avenge the dead cops and his wounded father. Sean blossoms as a brilliant prosecutor and wins despite Vigoda bringing up allegations of widespread police corruption. The lucky Sean also lands as a girlfriend Peggy Lindstrom (Lena Olin), an attractive and wealthy lawyer in Vigoda's office. When Morgy gets a heart attack and can't run, the Democrats choose Sean to run against the experienced Eli. Sean wins but is faced with an internal affairs investigation that reveals his father and partner might be dirty cops, involved in a coverup with the sentenced drug dealer.

REVIEWED ON 5/4/2011       GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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