City Hall (film)
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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Harold Becker|
|Produced by||Harold Becker
Edward R. Pressman
|Written by||Kenneth Lipper
|Music by||Jerry Goldsmith|
|Editing by||David Bretherton
Robert C. Jones
|Studio||Castle Rock Entertainment|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Running time||111 minutes|
The plot follows the aftermath of the death of a boy caught in the crossfire of a shootout between a drug dealer and a detective.
According to the website Box Office Mojo, the film grossed an estimated $20 million in the U.S.
This was Becker's second collaboration with Pacino, having directed him in Sea of Love released seven years earlier.
John Pappas is the mayor of New York City and has far more grand ambitions, including the governor's office and the White House. His loyal deputy mayor is Kevin Calhoun, a young man from Louisiana who grew up loving politics.
One day, an off-duty police detective named Eddie Santos is ambushed by Tino Zapatti, a criminal with mob ties. They kill each other in a shootout with a stray bullet also causing the death of an innocent small boy named James Bone.
An investigation leads to a question as to why Judge Walter Stern, an old friend of the mayor's, had set Zapatti free on probation for a recent crime rather than send him to jail. Legal aid Marybeth Cogan, meanwhile, attempts to see that Santos' widow receives his full benefits, but there seems to be a conspiracy to paint the slain detective as less than honest.
While the mayor speaks at the child's funeral, Calhoun digs for answers. He is wary of Frank Anselmo, a Brooklyn politician who has connections to organized crime boss Paul Zapatti, the uncle of the cop-killer. Anselmo plants money at Zapatti's behest to smear the detective's good name.
The deputy mayor and Cogan continue to seek the truth from a number of sources, including Santos' partner and another Zapatti relative. After the murder of probation officer Larry Schwartz, they ultimately come to the conclusion that Judge Stern had to be on the take.
Pappas agrees that Stern must resign. The scandal snowballs to the point that Anselmo is instructed by Paul Zapatti to "take the pressure off" himself, by which he means commit suicide rather than become an informer or go to jail. To protect his family, Anselmo shoots himself.
The scandal is nearly at an end, but Calhoun knows one more thing—his idol, the mayor, is also involved. He is the one who put Stern together with Anselmo to receive a bribe and leave the young Zapatti on the street. Calhoun soon tells Pappas there is only one choice—to quit as mayor and leave politics for good. ("You're gonna take yourself out, John. You're gonna take yourself out.")
Elements of the story are loosely based on New York City's political turmoil in the mid-1980s. Emerging from a crippling near-bankruptcy, the city enjoyed modest success under the leadership of popular mayor Ed Koch. Democratic Queens borough president Donald Manes was a popular politician who turned his role into more of a proactive office, rather than ceremonial. A series of corruption investigations revealed he was using his office to orchestrate various kickback schemes. Many of his associates were forced to resign or faced prosecution. The result of these 1986 investigations led Manes to have a nervous breakdown, and eventually commit suicide. Mayor Ed Koch's popularity was shaken by the Queens borough president's suicide and the indictment of his associates. Further investigations revealed no connection between Koch and Manes' kickback schemes. While the plot of City Hall uses a child's wrongful death and cover-up, the dramatic investigation of an equally powerful mayor (Pappas) and borough president (Anselmo) draw many similarities. Koch himself has a brief cameo in the film as a newscaster.
- Al Pacino as Mayor John Pappas
- John Cusack as Kevin Calhoun
- Danny Aiello as Frank Anselmo
- Bridget Fonda as Marybeth Cogan
- Tony Franciosa as Paul Zapatti
- Martin Landau as Judge Walter Stern
- David Paymer as Abe Goodman
- Richard Schiff as Larry Schwartz
- Harry Bugin as Morty the Waiter
The movie debuted at No.4.
- City Hall at the Internet Movie Database
- City Hall at Rotten Tomatoes
- City Hall at Box Office Mojo
- Mayor Pappas's Eulogy in Text and Audio from AmericanRhetoric.com