The Detective (1968)

TheDetectiveSuggested by Brad Nelson • Police detective Joe Leland investigates the murder of a homosexual man. While investigating, he discovers links to official corruption in New York City in this drama that delves into a world of sex and drugs.
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One Response to The Detective (1968)

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    This hovers between an old-fashioned film noir and a TV movie of the week. It’s gritty but is often little more than an obnoxious “message” movie. Okay, Frank, we get it. Being personally such a difficult character that some of your friends call you “The Monster,” and the sin of hanging out with mob friends, requires you to cleanse yourself by using homosexuals, Jews, and blacks and your cause célèbre. Hey, I like Sammy David Jr. too.

    Anyway, that’s one way to view this film because there isn’t anything subtle about it. It intentionally deals with racy themes in an obvious attempt to be cutting edge. There are queers and nymphomaniacs (Lee Remick). There are bad cops and, of course, good cops (Sinatra).

    The movie centers (at first) around a murdered homosexual. Then, somewhat oddly, the movie about two-thirds of the way through proceeds to an entirely new crime — a conspiracy by high-ranking officials and businessmen to make money on a real estate fraud. The first crime (the murdered homosexual) barely connects with the second. It’s somewhat two movies in one.

    But the self-conscious “message” elements are entertaining, if only for being sort of Jack-Webb ham-fisted. Jack Klugman has a too-small role as Sinatra’s ally in investigating possible police corruption. But he, like the police corruption plot, is too little, too late.

    This is one of Jacqueline Bisset’s first movies, and she’s truly gorgeous…so much so that she can wear the short hair and never come within a thousand miles of looking like a boy. Her entry in the picture is, again, too little and too late. We get way too much of the generally uninteresting romance between Sinatra and Remick. Jackie B would have spiced this aspect up considerably.

    Sinatra himself is pretty good in this, although I can’t say he’s ever been truly great in a movie. But he is often adequately Sinatra, as he is in this one. Robert Duvall has a very small role.

    Stylishly, this film doesn’t really have it, although it does have Frank. It proceeds around three or four hackneyed flashbacks, making it easy to forget what is the flashback and what isn’t. The thing is, every single criticism I’ve given here is an additional reason to watch the movie. It’s wonderful kitsch. There are some nice moments and occasionally some good dialogue:

    Lloyd Bochner: You don’t like psychiatrists very much do you?

    Sinatra: I don’t like the kind who try to make people adjust to a sick world.

    Unfortunately there’s not enough of this. What’s the theme of the movie? It wanders here and there. But watch this with a friend. I think you’ll enjoy it. There are enough little things in it that are a hoot.

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