Film retrospectives seem to be in scarce supply these days unless they're tied to a new release, a remake, or an untimely death. Thankfully, The New York Times' piece on Frank Serpico was inspired by none of the above; it's just an intriguing look back at Sidney Lumet's film Serpico and the man who inspired it. Neither the film nor the real Frank Serpico have exactly disappeared from the radar (Serpico has an official website and a blog), but Corey Kilgannon's profile is a particularly haunting piece because it confronts its subject with his own movie biopic. It's a timely one too, as there's at least one generation (if not two) that know more about Spider-Man's heroism than Serpico's, and favor Michael Bay over Sidney Lumet.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Frank Serpico's name was shorthand for bravery, honesty, and standing up against your so-called friends and allies. Everyone knew his story. He was the son of Italian immigrants, a Brooklyn native who had such pride in his country that he fought in Korea and joined the NYPD. But once he joined the police force, he found that corruption and extortion was rampant. Anyone unwilling to participate in bribery was shunned, and anyone willing to speak against it risked his life. Serpico bravely stepped forward to testify, and was shot during a routine drug bust in 1971. It was clear his fellow officers had set him up to be executed. It was a shocking act of violence and betrayal that still haunts Serpico to this day. "I still have nightmares," he told the New York Times. "I open a door a little bit and it just explodes in my face. Or I'm in a jam and I call the police, and guess who shows up? My old cop buddies who hated me."
categories Movies, Cinematical