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Prince of the City
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Prince of the City

1981
Drama
Suspense/Thriller
2h 47m
New York cop Daniel Ciello is involved in some questionable police practices. He is approached by internal affairs and in exchange for him potentially being let off the hook, he is instructed to begin to expose the inner workings of police corruption. (imdb)
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Prince of the City

1981
Drama
Suspense/Thriller
2h 47m
Your probable score
Avg Percentile 68.71% from 295 total ratings

Ratings & Reviews

(295)
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Rated 26 Jul 2010
9
94th
"You see that waitress over there? The one with no tits? She's been wearin' a wire for six months. She's got a transmitter stuffed right up her pussy." Intense, bleak "The Wire"-esque drama highlighted by realistic performances all the way round and anchored in an amazing script. Lumet structures it brilliantly. From the moment Ciello steps forward, he is - we slowly understand - doomed. In a city, where you keep your mouth shut, seeking out justice is like writing your own death warrant.
Rated 10 Dec 2010
83
91st
Williams' best role, and one of Lumet's best films. A dense, complex epic set in a world where nothing is black and white.
Rated 30 Mar 2009
94
95th
The Godfather of cop movies--long, slow, tense, atmospheric, and brimming with emotion. It does feel a bit like Lumet wanted to remake Serpico, and frankly that's fine: this is easily a superior film. It's a great portrait of some of the pressures a cop faces, and a harrowing critique of how the system reacts when one speaks up about corruption. Also, Jerry Orbach is badass.
Rated 27 Nov 2012
85
94th
Back in the early eighties Mr. Treat Williams seemed about to emerge as one of the great screen actors. Somehow it didn't turn out that way, so let's cherish this terrific cop thriller which, although it falls short of his masterpieces, is one of Lumet's finest.
Rated 28 Oct 2017
86
80th
This Serpico of the eighties is a beautiful mess. Its episodic nature doesn't quite function as it should, nor does Treat Williams's hammy Danny Ciello. His character could have held the movie together, but he's far too inconsistent. A lot of fantastic actors in this one, but he's not one of them. It's still a good, visceral film, though.
Rated 03 May 2007
80
91st
At over 180 minutes and very prosaic, hard to follow, with a story that's fairly tense but doesn't build up, this may as well have been a mini-series. In any case, if you liked Serpico, here Lumet pulls off a police-corruption drama that's even bleaker, more jarring and more realistic (here even the protagonist is no angel). It's not as great as Serpico but it's still really good, and Treat Williams is no Al Pacino but he's certainly adequate.
Rated 25 Apr 2019
86
89th
Whew, what a ride. Sidney Lumet's masterful eye allows for a strict procedural to come to life with gritty and somber realism. Nothing seems unlikely, not even Treat Williams' occasional over the top performance. His machismo, over the film's three hour running time, melts away to show a broken and alone man.
Rated 26 Feb 2012
90
83rd
Perhaps a little long, but the NYC atmosphere is gritty and compelling and Treat Williams is very fine indeed as the guilt-ridden cop who tries to do the noble thing and as a consequence becomes alienated from everything that makes him what he is, everything he knows and loves.
Rated 01 Feb 2011
6
81st
An engaging crime drama with a lot to like but not much to love. I can understand the comparison to The Wire. It's quite realistic in the sense that it doesn't sugarcoat the personal sacrifices and hardships involved in trying to right a seemingly incurable wrong. In terms of flaws, not much to say, really. Maybe it's just that films about police corruption don't do much for me. I don't consider it one of Lumet's best, but it's still well worth watching.
Rated 07 Jun 2023
80
60th
Prince of the city drops you into the action with entirely no set up. The beginning is simply too vague. Overall the film is a bit long/repetitive, and it could have used a stronger lead actor. Though once you get to know all of the various players the audience is treated with a rather engaging police corruption story. I like Norman Parker as Cappalino, and it’s nice to see Bob Balaban in an early career role. The last 15 minutes are also great and do a lot towards making everything work.
Rated 22 Aug 2017
4
74th
Demands comparison to Serpico, but Lumet differentiates this crack at administrative corruption largely in the cast of its protagonist: Ciello is a reluctant hero, complicit in crime and bothered by a guilty conscious, sacrificing his identity for his redemption, but doomed to forever live with a lingering cloud. So its morality is a little more complex, but it's also a bit inelegant, and doesn't feature the singular performance that the previous film boasts. Regardless, a great movie.
Rated 09 Mar 2019
80
8th
80.00
Rated 16 Oct 2019
70
39th
Good, but I didn't exactly like Williams in this – every emotion feels like over the top dramatization, though it might be just the way his character is, I still rolled my eyes way too much to really care.
Rated 30 Oct 2019
65
52nd
I think this would have been better with a stronger lead. Still; worth a look.
Rated 02 Jun 2022
84
93rd
So many of the lines in this caused me to laugh almost to the point of tears. A great film that needed some tightening in the editing room to be a masterpiece.
Rated 16 Apr 2012
80
49th
Very well shot but pretty uneventful for how long this movie is...
Rated 10 Jul 2023
80
82nd
A bit overlong. Discussion at the end among DOJ people is amazing. Much funnier than you would expect.
Rated 19 Feb 2024
80
87th
Takes the same theme of Serpico, but goes into the real nuts and bolts of the issue in a microcosm. New Hollywood stylings with just a touch of Cassavetes makes for a strong, compelling drama.
Rated 30 Dec 2023
68
84th
While the plot is about the main character exposing police corruption, the film is really about the main character's interesting personal journey as he navigates being undercover and dealing with the guilt of his actions and the strain on him. It's a good film if a bit too long, with a good main character performance and good writing and directing.
Rated 19 Oct 2017
80
81st
lumet, bir yönetmen olmaktan öte bir janr adeta. fakat burada, hikayenin tüm girinti çıkıntılarındaki çekiciliğin ardında sinematik bir çekicilik yok. özellikle film uzadıkça bu problem çok daha büyüyor ve 2,5 saati aşkın süre raporları okuyarak bir hikaye açığa çıkarmayı çağrıştırıyor. gerçekliğe yakınlaşma tavrına karşı bir çıkışım yok ama...
Rated 12 Jul 2012
85
80th
85.375
Rated 25 Jul 2013
85
59th
Very impressive cop drama, better than Lumet's previous film Serpico, and a quintessential New York film. I don't know much about Treat Williams but he's so good here that I'm surprised he did not have a better career. Lumet wanted the film to have an epic and sprawling feel, but I do think it's a bit too long.
Rated 12 Feb 2011
68
54th
Were it not for Treat Williams' terrible acting this would probably be a classic. Such a good screenplay.
Rated 27 Jan 2011
80
51st
I felt it.
Rated 21 Oct 2013
85
83rd
84.500
Rated 22 Jun 2017
75
51st
An episodic and detailed plotline that seems to predate the similar cop cable shows circa '00s -- and like those shows, I'm not as involved in this as other folks may be. I appreciate individual segments here, particularly some very strong scenes early on, but they don't quite build up the needed momentum. Flawed, yet impressive most of the time, with some quality (and other times suspicious) editing choices, and boasting quite the emotional (and only briefly spotty) lead by Williams.
Rated 14 Aug 2007
55
53rd
Score based on distant memory.
Rated 06 Jun 2013
80
78th
one of the best police informer films ever.
Rated 28 Jul 2011
70
72nd
Wow, what a sprawling mess of a police saga. There's a lot to like here, but it often feels like Lumet needed a better editor to make it all hang together. Feels like a 4-hour film condensed to 2:45. Nevertheless, it's an intense, gritty slow-burner and definitely worth a look.

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