Badge of the Assassin

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Badge of the Assassin
Badge of the Assassin 1985 Film Poster.jpg
Original film poster of "Badge of the Assassin".
Genre Crime, Thriller
Directed by Mel Damski
Produced by Daniel H. Blatt (executive producer)
Robert Singer (executive producer)
Pixie Lamppu (associate producer)
Robert K. Tanenbaum (co-executive producer)
Written by Robert K. Tanenbaum (book)
Philip Rosenberg (book)
Lawrence Roman (screenplay)
Starring James Woods
Yaphet Kotto
Alex Rocco
Music by Tom Scott
Editing by Andrew L. Cohen
Country United States
Language English
Original channel Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)
Release date
  • November 2, 1985 (1985-11-02)
Running time 120 minutes

Badge of the Assassin is a 1985 television film starring James Woods, Yaphet Kotto and Alex Rocco. It was directed by Mel Damski. The film first aired on the Columbia Broadcasting System network on November 2, 1985.[1] The film's production company was Blatt-Singer Productions.[2]

Background[edit]

The film stars James Woods as Assistant District Attorney Robert K. Tanenbaum, Yaphet Kotto as Detective Cliff Fenton NYPD and Alex Rocco as Detective Bill Butler NYPD. Other cast members in the film include David Harris as Lester Bertram Day, Steven Keats as Harold Skelton, Defense Attorney, Larry Riley as Herman Bell, Pam Grier as Alexandra 'Alie' Horn, Rae Dawn Chong as Christine Horn and Richard Bradford as L.J. Delsa.[3]

Based on the true story that took place in Harlem during 1971, the Badge of the Assassin film is based on the 1979 book of the same name - a true-crime account from the former district attorney and New York Times bestselling author Robert K. Tanenbaum and Philip Rosenberg. Woods played Tanenbaum in the film, whilst Tanenbaum himself was the film's co-executive producer.[4] Writer Lawrence Roman transferred the book into a script for a TV movie. The film is an account of the detective work and prosecution that resulted in the conviction in 1975 of the Black Liberation Army members who, four years earlier, had shot to death two New York City police officers, Waverly Jones and Joseph Piagentini, in an unprovoked attack.[5]

In The Pittsburgh Press of November 1, 1985, an article under the headline "TV time warp says Badge of Assassin" written by Barbara Holsopple stated "'Television destroys time... it just eats up evenings and spits them out and they're gone.' The words came from Yaphet Kotto, one of today's most respected actors. He was ruminating on a controversy that erupted during a press conference for tomorrow's CBS film, Badge of the Assassin. The film dramatizes the efforts of an assistant district attorney in New York City to capture and convict the killers of two policemen. The men, one white, one black, were gunned down in Harlem in 1971 by the Black Liberation Army, an offshoot of the Black Panthers. The film is racist, suggested a TV critic too young to remember that horrifying and bizarre era of outrageous rhetoric and rebellion when city officials hosed down peach marchers and a Michigan housewife was murdered for registering voters and "offing" the "pigs" could be a life's commitment. For nearly a decade, society tore itself apart on the evening news. The presence of TV cameras fed the fires. And the embers are so cold now, a young man asks why the Black Liberation Army's political stance is not given a fair shake to "explain" why two policemen were shot repeatedly as one of their killers screamed, 'He won't die. The pig won't die.' 'There is no time to think about things anymore, to analyze and understand', said Kotto, his voice weary and his eyes sad."[6]

The film was released in America and the UK on now out-of-print VHS, and has never received a DVD release. In the UK it was released onto VHS with an exclusive artwork.[7] In America, the film has received a number of VHS releases. On August 10, 1992, the film was released on VHS via Anchor Bay,[8] whilst in 1993 and again in 1998, Lions Gate Home Entertainment released the film on VHS again.[9][10] In 1995, it was also issued on VHS by Vidmark Entertainment.[2] All releases featured the same artwork as the original movie poster. The film was also issued on Laserdisc.[11]

Plot[edit]

Three black revolutionaries gun down two New York City police officers. The policemen were gunned down in cold blood by the self-styled terrorists, who first elude to the law and then, for want of crucial evidence, conviction for their crime. Assistant District Attorney, Robert Tanenbaum, the man responsible for bringing the three cop killers to justice leads a tireless nationwide investigation that moves to San Francisco, New Orleans and Mississippi and finally back to a climax in a New York courtroom, during the desperate search for the killers. Tanenbaum is aided by his partner, a resourceful and equally determined detective, Cliff Fenton.[12][13]

Cast[edit]

Reception[edit]

Sandra Brennan of Allmovie gave the film three out of five stars.[14] Digiguide.tv gave the film three out of five stars.[15] In the Blockbuster Video Guide to Movies and Videos, 1996, published by Dell Pub. on 1 August 1995, the film was given a four out of five star rating.[16]

On November 1, 1985, The New York Times writer Lawrence Van Gelder reviewed the film under the article headline "Police Murders Dramatized in Badge of the Assassin", where he stated "On screen, Mr. Tanenbaum, who pursued the case through two trials -the first ending in a hung jury, the second in murder convictions - is portrayed with a nice mixture of intensity, warmth, subdued humor and occasional self-doubt by James Woods. He is well supported by Yaphet Kotto and Alex Rocco as the New York detectives assigned to the case, and the cast also includes Rae Dawn Chong and Pam Grier as women associated with the killers. Badge of the Assassin wastes no time on subplots, nor does it exaggerate its intrinsic drama; neither does it seek to appraise or analyze from the vantage point of the 1980's the racial rage that was a characteristic of the time that produced the murders. Perhaps the fact that the case is revisited nearly 15 years later as typical television entertainment for a Saturday night is comment enough."[5]

In The Pittsburgh Press of November 1, 1985, writer Barbara Holsopple stated "Badge of the Assassin is well-written, performed and produced, but it lacks the tension, suspense and horror of its era. Performers can't reproduce that, Yaphet Kotto said, if nobody remembers."[6]

As quoted on the film's original movie poster and VHS release, Leonard of Entertainment Tonight stated "Bristling police drama about real life... played with nervour intensity by James Woods."[10]

The Stop Button webzine reviewed the film in 2007, and stated "Mel Damski, if Badge of the Assassin is any indication, might be the finest TV movie director ever (who never went on to good theatrical films anyway). He understands composition, camera movement, editing–how to let actors do what actors do–beautifully. Badge of the Assassin looks like a TV movie and that description is, thanks in large part to Damski, not at all a pejorative. Admittedly, he has a lot of help. The film's perfectly as cast, top to bottom. Alex Rocco, Larry Riley, Richard Bradford, all three are particularly good, but there are no bad performances. David Harris is real good too. But the film really belongs to Yaphet Kotto. Even though James Woods gets a lot to do, he never gets as much to do as Kotto... and he doesn't get to do it as long. Regardless of what a terrible film McQ is... screenwriter Lawrence Roman is of a definite pedigree and his influence is probably significant. The script is another area Badge really makes a model TV movie. The character content, which is considerable–scenes with Rocco, Woods and Kotto all have a lot of weight–occurs over a really long time. Adding to the film is the location shooting. It helps immensely, forcing the viewer to engage with the reality of what's on the screen in front of him or her. In the end, Badge of the Assassin sort of runs out of time. It doesn't run out of story so much as it runs out of scenes it can enact well. It's a good looking film, though, with some great acting."[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088767/releaseinfo?ref_=tt_dt_dt
  2. ^ a b http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088767/companycredits?ref_=tt_dt_co
  3. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088767/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast
  4. ^ Badge of the Assassin - Robert K. Tanenbaum, Philip Rosenberg - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  5. ^ a b Van, Lawrence (1985-11-01). "Police Murders Dramatized In 'Badge of the Assassin'". NYTimes.com. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  6. ^ a b http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=ThwhAAAAIBAJ&sjid=JmMEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6811,154380&dq=badge+of+the+assassin&hl=en
  7. ^ "Badge Of The Assassin - James Woods - Yaphet Kotto - Pam Grier - Vhs Video Pal". eBay. 2012-04-28. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  8. ^ "Badge of the Assassin [VHS]: James Woods, Yaphet Kotto, Alex Rocco, David Harris, Steven Keats, Larry Riley, Pam Grier, Rae Dawn Chong, Richard Bradford, Kene Holliday, Toni Kalem, Tamu Blackwell, Mel Damski, Daniel H. Blatt, Pixie Lamppu, Robert K. Tanenbaum, Robert Singer, Lawrence Roman, Philip Rosenberg: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  9. ^ "Badge of the Assassin [VHS]: James Woods, Yaphet Kotto, Alex Rocco, David Harris, Steven Keats, Larry Riley, Pam Grier, Rae Dawn Chong, Richard Bradford, Kene Holliday, Toni Kalem, Tamu Blackwell, Mel Damski, Daniel H. Blatt, Pixie Lamppu, Robert K. Tanenbaum, Robert Singer, Lawrence Roman, Philip Rosenberg: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  10. ^ a b "Badge of the Assassin [VHS]: James Woods, Yaphet Kotto, Alex Rocco, David Harris, Steven Keats, Larry Riley, Pam Grier, Rae Dawn Chong, Richard Bradford, Kene Holliday, Toni Kalem, Tamu Blackwell, Mel Damski, Daniel H. Blatt, Pixie Lamppu, Robert K. Tanenbaum, Robert Singer, Lawrence Roman, Philip Rosenberg: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  11. ^ "Badge of the Assassin LaserDisc, Rare LaserDiscs, Not-on-DVD Laser Disc". Dadons-laserdiscs.com. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  12. ^ "Lost Video Archive: Badge of the Assassin". Vhsarchive.blogspot.co.uk. 2010-11-12. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  13. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0088767/plotsummary?ref_=tt_stry_pl
  14. ^ "Badge of the Assassin (1985) - Trailers, Reviews, Synopsis, Showtimes and Cast". AllMovie. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  15. ^ "Badge of the Assassin (1985) : Film". Digiguide.tv. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  16. ^ Blockbuster Video guide to movies and videos, 1996 - Google Books. Books.google.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 
  17. ^ "Badge of the Assassin (1985, Mel Damski)". The Stop Button. 2007-08-03. Retrieved 2013-05-09. 

External links[edit]