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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Sidney Lumet|
|Produced by||Dino De Laurentiis
Roger M. Rothstein
|Screenplay by||Waldo Salt
by Peter Maas
|Music by||Mikis Theodorakis
|Cinematography||Arthur J. Ornitz|
|Editing by||Dede Allen
|Studio||Artists Entertainment Complex
De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures
Cinema International Corporation
United International Pictures
|Running time||130 min.|
Serpico is a 1973 American crime film directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Al Pacino. Waldo Salt and Norman Wexler wrote the screenplay, adapting Peter Maas' biography of NYPD officer Frank Serpico (born 1936), who went undercover to expose corruption in the force. Both Maas's book and the film cover 12 years — 1960 to June 15, 1972 — in the life of Serpico, who wanted to do the best job he could do as an honest policeman.
Plot summary 
Working as a uniformed patrolman, Frank Serpico succeeds in every assignment. He moves on to plainclothes assignments, where he slowly discovers a hidden world of illicit activities among his own colleagues. After witnessing cops use drugs, commit violence, take paybacks and other forms of police corruption, Serpico decides to expose what he has seen, but he is harassed and threatened by his peers. The struggle leads to infighting within the police force, problems in his personal relationships, and life-threatening situations. Finally, after being shot in the face during a drug bust on February 3, 1971, he testifies before the Knapp Commission, a government inquiry into NYPD police corruption between 1970 and 1972. After receiving a New York City Police Department Medal of Honor and a disability pension, Serpico resigns from the force and moves to Switzerland.
- Al Pacino as Frank Serpico
- John Randolph as Chief Sidney Green
- Jack Kehoe as Tom Keough
- Biff McGuire as Captain Inspector McClain
- Barbara Eda-Young as Laurie
- Cornelia Sharpe as Leslie Lane
- Tony Roberts as Bob Blair
- John Medici as Pasquale Serpico
- Allan Rich as District Attorney Herman Tauber
- Norman Ornellas as Don Rubello
- Edward Grover as Inspector Lombardo
- Joseph Bova as Potts
- Gene Gross as Captain Tolkin
- John Stewart as Waterman
- Woodie King Jr. as Larry
- James Tolkan as Lieutenant Steiger
- Ed Crowley as Barto
- Bernard Barrow as Inspector Roy Palmer
- Sal Carollo as Mr. Serpico
- Mildred Clinton as Mrs. Serpico
- Nathan George as Lieutenant Nate Smith
- Alan North as Brown
- Lewis J. Stadlen as Jerry Berman
- John McQuade as Inspector Kellogg
- M. Emmet Walsh as Gallagher
- George Ede as Daley
- F. Murray Abraham as Detective Partner
- John Brandon as Police Lieutenant
- Sam Coppola as Cop
- René Enríquez as Cervantes Teacher
- Conard Fowkes as Cop
- Judd Hirsch as Cop
- Tony Lo Bianco as Cop
Prior to any work on the movie, producer Martin Bregman had lunch with biographical book author Peter Maas to discuss a film adaptation. Waldo Salt, a screenwriter, began to write the script which director Sidney Lumet deemed to be too long. Another screenwriter, Norman Wexler, did the structural work followed by play lines.
Director John G. Avildsen was originally slated to direct the movie, but was removed from production due to differences with producer Bregman. Lumet took the helm as director just before filming. The real-life Frank Serpico wished to be present during the filming of the movie based on his life. Initially he was permitted to stay, but was eventually dismissed from the filming, as director Lumet was worried that his presence would make the actors (particularly lead actor Al Pacino) self-conscious.
The story was filmed in the streets of New York City. A total of 104 different locations in four of the five boroughs of the city were used. No filming took place in Staten Island. An apartment at 5-7 Minetta Street in Manhattan's Greenwich Village was used as Serpico's residence, though according to the Peter Maas book he actually lived on Perry Street during the events depicted in the film. Lewisohn Stadium, which was closed at the time of filming, was used for one scene.
As the storyline needed to show the progression of Frank Serpico's beard and hair length, individual scenes were filmed in reverse order, with actor Al Pacino's hair being trimmed for each scene set earlier in the film's timeline.
Woodie King Jr., originally cast as a hoodlum, was replaced after suffering a broken leg while filming a chase scene for this movie. He returned to the set two months later to play Leslie's friend Larry in the party scene.
Playwright Sidney Kingsley loaned his apartment to Sidney Lumet for use to film the party scene. In 1935, Kingsley hired an 11-year-old Lumet to appear on Broadway in his play, "Dead End", and they had remained friends since then.
The original score was composed by Mikis Theodorakis, nominated for both the Grammy Award for Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture and the BAFTA award for Best Film Music. Its Greek name is Dromoi Palioi, or "Old Streets". Sidney Lumet's direction was recognized by both the BAFTAs and the Directors Guild of America. The film was nominated for the Golden Globe award for Best Motion Picture – Drama.
The film also received Academy Awards nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Al Pacino) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium. The Writers Guild nominated the script for Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium.
Box office 
Pacino's role as Frank Serpico is ranked at #40 on the American Film Institute's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains list. The film is also ranked at #84 on the AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers, a list of America's Most Inspiring Movies.
Home video releases 
- "Serpico, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 17, 2012.
- "Serpico, Award Wins and Nominations". IMDb. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
- "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Heroes and Villains List". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 30, 2012.
- "AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers List". American Film Institute. Retrieved January 30, 2012.