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USA 1968
Directed by
Don Siegel
101 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars


Don Siegel's film is very much rooted in the immediate past with a couple of superannuated stars, Richard Widmark as Detective Daniel Madigan and Henry Fonda as his Police Commissioner and is notable for the director's recognisable '60s look (the cops all wearing three piece suits and pork pie hats and driving Caddies and making cracks about hippies) whilst lush string arrangements back proceedings.

Stylistically Madigan is a transitional film still caught in a studio-built version (check out Madigan’s apartment which looks like it was cobbled together from contemporary TV advert discards) of life in the New York Police Department, the grittier approaches of Siegel’s own Dirty Harry (1971) and Sidney Lumet’s Serpico (1973) still a few years away. The film does however look forward to the future of police dramas with “adult” content and a burgeoning sense of world-weary fatalism.

Fonda plays the morally upright Police Commissioner, Tony X. Russell, whilst Widmark is a precursor to what is now a staple of the genre on both the big and small screens (it in fact was turned into a teleseries with the same title), the cop willing to bend the rules to get the job done. The film is essentially a contrast of these two methodologies with Siegel giving much more attention to the lives of these two men than the putative object of the story which is bringing in bad-ass Barney Benesch (Steve Ihnat). The action sequences are rudimentary and moral quandries rather programatically handled but the result is a solid, if unremarkable, film of largely historical interest.




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