A Movie A Day #30: Prince of the City (1981, directed by Sidney Lumet)


220px-prince_of_the_city_foldedIn 1970s New York City, Danny Ciello (Treat Williams) is a self-described “prince of the city.”  A narcotics detective, Ciello is the youngest member of the Special Investigations Unit.  Because of their constant success, the SIU is given wide latitude by their superiors at the police department.  The SIU puts mobsters and drug dealers behind bars.  They get results.  If they sometimes cut corners or skim a little money for themselves, who cares?

It turns out that a lot of people care.  When a federal prosecutor, Rick Cappalino (Norman Parker), first approaches Ciello and asks him if he knows anything about police corruption, Ciello refuses to speak to him.  As Ciello puts it, “I sleep with my wife but I live with my partners.”  But Ciello already has doubts.  His drug addict brother calls him out on his hypocrisy. Ciello spends one harrowing night with one of his informants, a pathetic addict who Ciello keeps supplied with heroin in return for information.  Ciello finally agrees to help the investigation but with one condition: he will not testify against anyone in the SIU.  Before accepting Ciello’s help, Cappalino asks him one question.  Has Ciello ever done anything illegal while a cop?  Ciello says that he has only broken the law three times and each time, it was a minor infraction.

For the next two years, Ciello wears a wire nearly every day and helps to build cases against other cops, some of which are more corrupt than others.  It turns out that being an informant is not as easy as it looks.  Along with getting burned by malfunctioning wires and having to deal with incompetent backup, Ciello struggles with his own guilt.  When Cappalino is assigned to another case, Ciello finds himself working with two prosecutors (Bob Balaban and James Tolkan) who are less sympathetic to him and his desire to protect the SIU.  When evidence comes to light that Ciello may have lied about the extent of his own corruption, Ciello may become the investigation’s newest target.

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Prince of the City is one of the best of Sidney Lumet’s many films but it is not as well-known as 12 Angry Men, Dog Day Afternoon, Network, Serpico, The Verdict, or even The Wiz.  Why is it such an underrated film?  As good as it is, Prince of the City is not always an easy movie to watch.  It’s nearly three hours long and almost every minute is spent with Danny Ciello, who is not always likable and often seems to be on the verge of having a nervous breakdown.  Treat Williams gives an intense and powerful performance but he is such a raw nerve that sometimes it is a relief when Lumet cuts away to Jerry Orbach (as one of Ciello’s partners) telling off a district attorney or to a meeting where a group of prosecutors debate where a group of prosecutors debate whether or not to charge Ciello with perjury.

Prince of the City may be about the police but there’s very little of the typical cop movie clichés.  The most exciting scenes in the movie are the ones, like that scene with all the prosecutors arguing, where the characters debate what “corruption” actually means.  Throughout Prince of the City, Lumet contrasts the moral ambiguity of otherwise effective cops with the self-righteous certitude of the federal prosecutors.  Unlike Lumet’s other films about police corruption (Serpico, Q&A), Prince of the City doesn’t come down firmly on either side.

(Though the names have been changed, Prince of the City was based on a true story.  Ciello’s biggest ally among the investigators, Rick Cappalino, was based on a young federal prosecutor named Rudy Giuliani.)

Prince of the City is dominated by Treat Williams but the entire cast is full of great New York character actors.  It would not surprise me if Jerry Orbach’s performance here was in the back of someone’s mind when he was cast as Law & Order‘s Lenny Briscoe.  Keep an eye out for familiar actors like Lance Henriksen, Lane Smith, Lee Richardson, Carmine Caridi, and Cynthia Nixon, all appearing in small roles.

Prince of the City is a very long movie but it needs to be.  Much as David Simon would later do with The Wire, Lumet uses this police story as a way to present a sprawling portrait of New York City.  In fact, if Prince of the City were made today, it probably would be a David Simon-penned miniseries for HBO.

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20 Good Things That I Saw On Television in 2013


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Someday, I want to have my own tv network.  I’ll call it Lisa Marie Television (or LMTV for short) and it’ll be like Lifetime but with the Lisa Marie difference.  What’s the Lisa Marie difference?  Sweetheart, if you have to ask, you’ll never know.

Anyway, as I wait for that day to come, I’m going to continue my series of posts on my favorites of 2013 by telling you about some of the best things that I saw on television over the course of the previous year.  Here they are, in random order:

1) The series finale of Breaking Bad

Perfection.

2) The series finale of The Office

After a rough couple of seasons, The Office redeemed itself with a perfect conclusion.  How can you do any better than Jim and Pam moving to Texas?

3) Children’s Hospital on Adult Swim

Without a doubt, the funniest 15 minutes on television.

4) Burning Love on E!

E! broadcast episodes of the hilarious, Bachelor-parodying web series in 2013 and gave everyone a chance to follow Julie as she pined for Blaze and asked lucky bachelors, “Will you hold my box?”

5) SyFy Saturdays

This year, my Saturday night ritual was to gather online with the Snarkalecs and watch an original movie on SyFy.  And while all of the Normals (as we refer to the rest of the world) were going crazy over Sharknado, the Snarkalecs knew that End of the World was a hundred times better.

6) The only likable team won The Amazing Race 23

I can’t remember their names but I can remember that I liked them more than Tim & Marie, Nicole & Travis, and Leo & Jamal.

7) Bonnie and Clyde

Broadcast on three different networks and over two separate nights, Bonnie and Clyde was big, silly, over-the-top, glamorous, and full of style.  It made me want to go out and rob a bank while looking good doing it.

8) Orange is the New Black

We lost a lot of good shows in 2013 but, fortunately, we also gained a few new ones.

9) South Park satirizes Obama and Game of Thrones

I like one of those targets and dislike the other (guess which is which) but the important thing is that both of them have reached a point where they deserve to be satirized.  Not surprisingly, South Park continues to be one of the few show to have the guts to ridicule the topics that other shows are too cowardly to touch.

10) Bates Motel

Bates Motel was frequently uneven but it was always worth watching for Vera Farmiga and Max Thieriot.

11) The Space Kitten

That little space kitten that was singing Wrecking Ball at the American Music Awards?  Adorable!

12) Jimmy Kimmel

Whether he was causing Kanye West to have a meltdown or posting fake videos on YouTube, 2013 was the year of Kimmel.

13) The Talking Dead

Look, we all know that The Walking Dead is great but, for me, The Talking Dead is usually the highlight of AMC on Sunday night.  Chris Hardwick is adorable to begin with but the moment he choked up while discussing the death of Herschel confirmed that he’s not just a host.  He’s a true fan as well.

14) Miley Cyrus at the VMAs

It was tacky, it was shocking, it was disturbing, it got people talking and overreacting, and it was everything that television should be.  (That said, I would like to point out that — despite what some members of the media seem to believe — twerking existed long before Miley Cyrus decided to make it a part of her act.  I was twerking back when Miley was still Hannah Montana.)

15) That episode of Girls with Patrick Wilson

One of the best 25 minutes of television ever, and not just because Patrick Wilson is super hot.

16) The Herstory of Dance and Intro to Felt Surrogacy episodes of Community

Without the guiding vision of Dan Harmon, Community‘s fourth season was undeniably rough.  However, these two episodes reminded us that Community still had something to offer.  (That said, I’m glad Dan Harmon’s back for season 5…)

17) Colton walks off Survivor …. again

Colton Cumbie is one of the most loathsome people to ever show up on a reality TV show so it was satisfying to see him utterly fail to win Survivor not once but twice.

18) The Big Brother Blog got a new writer named Lisa Marie

This year, Bill Lage asked me to write episode recaps for the Big Brother Blog.  Of course, I said yes and, for three months, I had a lot of fun keeping people updated with what all of the loathsome people in the Big Brother house were up to.  I made a lot of new friends and I even made a persistent enemy named Maggie Long, a poor little internet troll who just couldn’t handle the fact that I encouraged my readers to “Stay supple!”  It was a lot of fun and I look forward to doing it all over again in 2014.

19) Winter Storm Cleon caused the local news people to freak out!

Yes, we did get some snow and ice down here in December.  Unlike you folks up North, those of us in Texas only see snow and ice every other year so, whenever it does show up, you can be sure that all of the local newspeople are going to panic.  That’s exactly what happened this year and it was fun to watch.

20) Degrassi!

My favorite Canadian show came back!

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Tomorrow, we take a look at ten of my favorite books of 2013.

Other Entries In TSL’s Look Back At 2013:

  1. 10 0f Lisa Marie’s Favorite Songs of 2013
  2. Lisa Marie’s 16 Worst Films of 2013
  3. Necromoonyeti’s Top 10 Metal Albums of 2013
  4. Things That Dork Geekus Dug In 2013
  5. Lisa Marie’s Best of 2o13 SyFy

 

My 2012 Emmy Nominations


So, for the past few days, I’ve been happily hopping around my section of the Shattered Lens Bunker and do you know why? 

Because it’s awards season, that’s why!  With the conclusion of the 2011-2012 TV season, Emmy ballots have been mailed and votes are being cast and, come July, we’ll know which shows and performers have been nominated for the 2012 Emmys. 

Before that happens, however, I would like to play a little game called “What if Lisa Was Solely Responsible For Picking the Nominees.”  Here’s how it works — I looked over and studied the complete list of the shows and performances that have been submitted this year for Emmy consideration.  And then, from that list, I picked my personal nominees.

(A complete list of every show and performer that’s been submitted for Emmy consideration can be found here.)

Below are my personal nominations in the major Emmy categories.  Again, note that these are not necessarily the shows and performers that I believe will be nominated.  Instead, these are the shows and performers that I would nominate if I was solely responsible for picking the nominees.

A complete list of my nominations in every single Emmy category can be found here.  (And yes, there’s a lot of Lifetime on the list.  There’s also a lot of Community.)

Best Comedy Series

Bored to Death (HBO)

Community (NBC)

Girls (HBO)

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)

Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Raising Hope (Fox)

Veep (HBO)

Best Drama Series

Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Breaking Bad (AMC)

The Client List (Lifetime)

Downton Abbey (PBS)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

Homeland (Showtime)

Pan Am (ABC)

Ringer (The CW)

True Blood (HBO)

The Walking Dead (AMC)

Outstanding Miniseries or Movie

Blue-Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Cyberbully (ABC Family)

Drew Peterson: Untouchable (Lifetime)

Five (Lifetime)

Girl Fight (Lifetime)

Hatfields & McCoys (History Channel)

The Hour (BBC America)

Of Two Minds (Lifetime)

Outstanding Variety Series

Conan (TBS)

Fashion Police (E)

Key and Peele (Comedy Central)

The Soup (E)

Tosh .O (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Variety Special

Betty White’s 90th Birthday Party (NBC)

Celtic Women: Believe (PBS)

The Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen (Comedy Central)

TV Land Awards (TV Land)

Wendy Liebman: Taller on TV (Showtime)

Outstanding Nonfiction Special

Bobby Fischer Against The World (HBO)

Catholicism: Amazed and Afraid (PBS)

Crime After Crime (OWN)

God Is The Bigger Elvis (HBO)

6 Days To Air: The Making of South Park (Comedy Central)

Outstanding Nonfiction Series

America in Primetime (PBS)

American Masters (PBS)

America’s Most Wanted (Lifetime)

Beyond Scared Straight (A&E)

Inside Story (Biography)

Outstanding Reality Program

Antiques Roadshow (PBS)

Dance Moms (Lifetime)

Kitchen Nightmares (Fox)

Scouted (E)

Storage Wars (A&E)

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

The Amazing Race (CBS)

The Bachelor (ABC)

Big Brother (CBS)

The Celebrity Apprentice (NBC)

Hell’s Kitchen (Fox)

Project Runway (Lifetime)

So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)

Survivor (CBS)

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series

Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm (HBO)

Johnny Galecki in The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Danny McBride in Eastbound and Down (HBO)

Joel McHale in Community (NBC)

Lucas Neff in Raising Hope (Fox)

Jason Schwartzman in Bored To Death (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama

Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad (AMC)

Jeffrey Donavon in Burn Notice (USA)

Damian Lewis in Homeland (Showtime)

Andrew Lincoln in The Walking Dead (AMC)

Timothy Olyphant in Justified (FX)

Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries or Movie

Idris Elba in Luther (BBC America)

Rob Lowe in Drew Peterson: Untouchable (Lifetime)

Steven Weber in Duke (Hallmark Movie Channel)

Dominic West in The Hour (BBC America)

Ben Whishaw in The Hour (BBC America)

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy

Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (Fox)

Lena Dunham in Girls (HBO)

Tina Fey in 30 Rock  (NBC)

Julia Louis Dreyfuss in Veep (HBO)

Mary-Louis Parker in Weeds (Showtime)

Martha Plimpton in Raising Hope (Fox)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama

Claire Danes in Homeland (Showtime)

Sarah Michelle Gellar in Ringer (The CW)

Jennifer Love Hewitt in The Client List (Lifetime)

Julianna Margulies in The Good Wife (CBS)

Elizabeth McGovern in Downton Abbey (PBS)

Anna Paquin in True Blood (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries or Movie

Kristin Davis in Of Two Minds (Lifetime)

Anne Heche in Girl Fight (Lifetime)

Rose McGowan in The Pastor’s Wife (Lifetime)

Emily Osment in Cyberbully (ABC Family)

Sara Paxton in Blue Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series

Charlie Day in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (FX)

Danny DeVito in It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX)

Donald Glover in Community (NBC)

Nick Offerman in Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Danny Pudi in Community (NBC)

Matt Walsh in Veep (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Drama

Bruce Campbell in Burn Notice (USA)

Peter Dinklage in Game of Thrones (HBO)

Giancarlo Espositto in Breaking Bad (AMC)

Michael Pitt in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Michael Shannon in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Alexander Skarsgard in True Blood (HBO)

Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Miniseries or Movie

Powers Boothe in Hatfields and McCoys (History Channel)

Justin Bruening in Blue-Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Mark-Paul Gosselaar in Hide (TNT)

Sir Roger Moore in A Princess For Christmas (Hallmark Movie Channel)

Tony Shalhoub in Five (Lifetime)

Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy

Alison Brie in Community (NBC)

Kristen Chenoweth in GCB (ABC)

Anna Chlumsky in Veep (HBO)

Gillian Jacobs in Community (NBC)

Cloris Leachman in Raising Hope (Fox)

Aubrey Plaza in Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in Drama

Christine Baranski in The Good Wife (CBS)

Kristen Bauer Von Straten in True Blood (HBO)

Kelly MacDonald in Boardwalk Empire (HBO)

Christina Ricci in Pan Am (ABC)

Sophia Turner in Game of Thrones (HBO)

Deborah Ann Woll in True Blood (HBO)

Supporting Actress In A Miniseries or Movie

Tammy Blanchard in Of Two Minds (Lifetime)

Kaley Cuoco in Drew Peterson: Untouchable (Lifetime)

Lisa Edelstein in Blue-Eyed Butcher (Lifetime)

Jessica Lange in American Horror Story (FX)

Jena Malone in Hatfields and McCoy (History Channel)

Drew Struzan Does Walking Dead plus Cast Photos


Drew Struzan.

That name alone will bring big smiles and goofy grins to film geeks and comic book fanboys the world over. Struzan has been one of the go-to artists when a studio wants a beautifully painted poster for their film. He’s done poster artwork for some of the most iconic films of the last 50 years. He’s done all the poster work for the Indiana Jones and Star Wars franchise. Of late he’s done some great work on film posters for the Harry Potter and Hellboy franchises.

In 2007 he created some wonderful poster art for a scene early in Frank Darabont’s film adaptation of the Stephen King novella, The Mist. Struzan also created a poster for that film. He and Darabont have been close friends so it wasn’t much of a surprise that Struzan would end up creating a film-style poster for Darabont’s tv adaptation of the fan-favorite and critical darling comic book series, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. The poster below is being premiered and given out by AMC at SDCC (San Diego Comic-Con) 2010 as part of their promotion for the series to premiere this October on AMC. To see the image below in its HQ glory then head on over to AICN which got the exclusive to show it before SDCC.

In addition to the Struzan poster AMC has also released individual photos of each cast member as their characters in the show plus two pictures of zombies who will populate the series. The actors really do a good job of becoming like their characters in these photos. The zombie pictures really show just why Greg Nicotero and his KNB Effects are the preeminent people when it comes to creating zombie make-up effects. These zombies look great and definitely reinforces the point that AMC will not waterdown the comic book for tv. Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes for some reason really resembles Viggo Mortensen in his character photo.