50th Anniversary Screening
Part of: Cinema Rediscovered on Tour
Directed by Sydney Lumet
Starring Al Pacino, John Randolph, Jack Kehoe, Biff McGuire, Barbara Eda-Young, Cornelia Sharpe
With its release towards the end of 1973, Serpico marked an early example of a cycle of American films – others examples include The Parallax View (1974), The Conversation (1974) and Three Days of the Condor (1975) – that explored the corruption and paranoia that seemed to be increasingly invading all aspects of society at the time.
Based on Peter Maas’ book, Serpico explores the real life experiences of a new recruit to the NYPD, Frank Serpico, who realises that the whole institution is built upon various levels of corruption and quickly finds out how far those involved will go to protect themselves. The focus on corruption within institutions supposedly there to protect and serve the public offered formerly blacklisted screenwriter Waldo Salt (an Oscar winner for Midnight Cowboy, also screening in this strand) another opportunity to examine the failures he saw at the core of American society.
Both Salt and additional screenwriter Norman Wexler were nominated for an Academy Award for their work on the film. Director Sidney Lumet, brought onto the project after original director John G. Avildsen was removed, and star Al Pacino create a believable, claustrophobic world where corruption seems to be everywhere and nobody can be trusted.
This is a new 4K restoration with thanks to Park Circus and Paramount.
Presented as part of Cinema Rediscovered on Tour, a Watershed project.
With support from BFI awarding funds from The National Lottery, Park Circus and MUBI.