Report to the Commissioner

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Report to the commissioner
Report to the Commissioner.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Tom Jung
Directed by Milton Katselas
Produced by M.J. Frankovich
Screenplay by Abby Mann
Ernest Tidyman
Based on Report to the Commissioner
by James Mills
Starring Michael Moriarty
Music by Elmer Bernstein
Cinematography Mario Tosi
Edited by David Blewitt
Frankovich Productions
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • February 5, 1975 (1975-02-05)
Running time
112 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Report to the Commissioner is a 1975 crime drama film based on James Mills' 1972 novel. The story involves a rookie cop (Michael Moriarty) in the New York City Police Department who is assigned a special missing person case, which in fact is meant to be a wild-goose chase to back up an undercover female police officer's role as the girlfriend of a drug dealer.

The film was directed by Milton Katselas and features a musical score by Elmer Bernstein. The script is by two Oscar-winning screenwriters, Abby Mann (Judgment at Nuremberg) and Ernest Tidyman (The French Connection). The film is also notable as Richard Gere's screen debut.


Patty Butler (Susan Blakely), an attractive young female police officer, is pretending to be a runaway girl with the nickname of "Chicklet." She has been given permission by the Department to be the live-in girlfriend of Thomas "Stick" Henderson (Tony King), a suspected drug dealer, so that they can gather evidence against him. To back up her cover story, Detective Bo Lockley (Michael Moriarty) has been given an almost impossible assignment: without being told she is actually an undercover officer, he is instructed to spend a few weeks trying to find this young runaway "Chicklet," who is believed to be somewhere in New York City. By Bo's actions of openly looking around and trying to find her, this will end up being reported back to Stick, which should convince him that his girlfriend really is a runaway.

Bo has no idea that his assignment is basically a fool's errand being used as a cover story. Amazingly enough, Bo is actually an excellent police officer and, despite what should have been a hopeless task, he finds Chicklet in the sleazy underbelly of the city. Bo is thanked by his supervisor, Richard "Crunch" Blackstone (Yaphet Kotto), and told to go back to his previous assignment. Either infatuated with Chicklet or not able to just allow her to be another young girl abandoned by the system, he goes to Stick's loft to rescue her.

In the process, Bo and Stick become engaged in a firefight, whereupon Stick is able to escape the apartment. Stick runs across town barefoot, carrying a handgun and dressed only in boxer shorts, pursued by Bo into a department store, where they are trapped in a Mexican standoff in one of the store's elevators. Eventually the police barricade the elevator, and Crunch grabs Bo when he and Stick leave through the elevator's emergency exit ceiling panel. Bo having been pulled to safety, the police open fire on Stick, killing him.

In the aftermath of the firefight and the subsequent killing of Stick, it is discovered that Officer Butler has been killed in Stick's loft by Bo, and an investigation has to be made as to whether he was negligent. It's determined that she was killed as a result of Bo trying to defend himself from Stick shooting at him, and thus the shooting was accidental.

Bo, however, is so depressed by what he has done that he hangs himself in his jail cell before he finds out that it was an accident. The film is in effect, a report of an incident to the Police Commissioner, which explains the title.


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