City Hall (film)

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City Hall
City hall ver1.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Harold Becker
Produced by Harold Becker
Kenneth Lipper
Charles Mulvehill
Edward R. Pressman
Written by Kenneth Lipper
Paul Schrader
Nicholas Pileggi
Bo Goldman
Starring Al Pacino
John Cusack
Bridget Fonda
Danny Aiello
Richard Schiff
David Paymer
Martin Landau
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Michael Seresin
Edited by David Bretherton
Robert C. Jones
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • February 16, 1996 (1996-02-16)
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $40 million
Box office $20,340,204

City Hall is a 1996 film directed by Harold Becker, starring Al Pacino, John Cusack, and Bridget Fonda.[1]

This was Becker's second collaboration with Pacino, having directed him in Sea of Love (1989).


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 sending 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 conclude that Judge Stern had to be on the take.

Pappas agrees that Stern must resign. The scandal snowballs to the point where Zapatti instructs Anselmo 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. It is the mayor 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.")



City Hall received mixed reviews from critics and ranks 54% at Rotten Tomatoes,[2] based on 24 reviews.

Box office[edit]

The movie debuted at number four at the United States box office.[3] According to the website Box Office Mojo, the film grossed an estimated $20 million in the U.S.


External links[edit]