If a guy took as a cop, he’ll take as a detective.

Prince of the City (1981)   The theme of corruption, be it localised or endemic, is an evergreen, and it’s one that particularly preoccupied moviemakers during the cynical backend of the ’60s and subsequently throughout the ’70s. Prince of the City concerns itself with events that occurred at the beginning of this period; Robert Leuci graduated the Police Academy in the early-60s, joining the NYPD and ending up in the Narcotics Bureau’s Special Investigation Unit (or SIU). In 1970, he was asked if he’d work with the Knapp Commission, which was charged with investigating police corruption. One of those asking

You must be one of those hardened criminals that corrupts the younger offender.

The Anderson Tapes (1971)   A cult curio. Simultaneously ahead of its time in its pre-Watergate grasp of all-pervading surveillance and behind it in its quirky technique, this second collaboration between Sean Connery and Sidney Lumet succeeds in both engaging and being vaguely dissatisfying. The essential problem is that Lumet probably wasn’t the ideal guy for the job. The Anderson Tapes needed someone with a much tighter control of the frame; indeed, this would probably be the Brian De Palma picture, if only it hadn’t been another half decade before he had the clout to command this sort of budget. Lumet commented of the

You crazy bastard! You’d prop up dead men and inspect them if you was ordered to.

The Hill (1965)   The kind of movie that gives you faith there are positives to star power. The Hill wouldn’t have been made, were it not for Sean Connery’s Bond cachet, and if it failed to create any waves at the box office, it still ranks one of the very best things most of its cast did. Which also goes for director Sidney Lumet and cinematographer Oswald Morris (who won a BAFTA for his efforts). It’s also the kind of picture which, when confronted by the empty fireworks of an awards favourite like 1917, serves as a reminder that intelligent, thought provoking

Your honor, with all due respect: if you’re going to try my case for me, I wish you wouldn’t lose it.

The Verdict (1982)   Sidney Lumet’s return to the legal arena, with results every bit as compelling as 12 Angry Men a quarter of a century earlier. This time the focus is on the lawyer, in the form of Paul Newman’s washed-up ambulance chaser Frank Galvin, given a case that finally matters to him. In less capable hands, The Verdict could easily have resorted to a punch-the-air piece of Hollywood cheese, but, thanks to Lumet’s earthy instincts and a sharp, unsentimental screenplay from David Mamet, this redemption tale is one of the genre’s very best. And it could easily have been otherwise. The Verdict went through several line-ups

I don’t know what you gave me, doctor, but it’s giving me hallucinations.

1976 – Top 10 Films    Marathon Man John Schlesinger’s Marathon Man is little more than slick pulp, scribed by one of the best in the business (William Goldman, who also delivered the No.1 in this list). It rode the crest of a mini-wave of Nazi war criminal movies that included The Odessa File and saw Laurence Olivier go from villain in this to hero in the amusingly crackpot The Boys from Brazil. Hoffman’s dedication to his role – running and running, and staying up nights before a scene, leading to the famous “Why don’t you just try acting?” quote attributed to Olivier; used as

Well, my disgustingness is my best feature.

1975 Top 10 Films    Barry Lyndon There are those who will claim every one of Stanley Kubrick’s films is an unalloyed classic, and there is an undeniable, unassailably legendary quality to the director’s body of work. Each one yields a dense feast of possible readings and interpretations. The more straightforward a plot is on the surface (The Shining), the more unfathomable it may become upon further analysis, throwing the viewer in all manner of different directions, both in terms of what the narrative is saying and the director’s visual language and choices. Barry Lyndon is an easy film of his to admire, but

Fetch him back! Let him not go!

1973 – Top 10 Films    The Day of the Jackal Fred Zinneman was a choice example of the journeyman studio director. Reliable across a selection of genres, and trusted with prestige projects, he took home two Oscars for Best Director (From Here to Eternity, A Man for All Seasons). Yet, you’d be hard pressed to identify stylistic trends across his work. The director had tackled suspense pictures before (High Noon) but nothing this taut and gritty. This is a very ’70s movie, with an unapologetic levels of sex and violence. It shows Zinneman, who had been through a spell without

I used to believe in many things, all of it! Now, I believe only in dynamite.

1972 – Top 10 Films   Favourite films lists are inevitably slightly arbitrary. Even your best-est film ever can be revisited so many times that fatigue sets in, and it begins to lose its lustre. Or, a picture you once loved no longer seems all that. And vice versa. I thought I’d kick-off a run of annual Top 10s by beginning with the year I winked into existence. Of course, this means that most of those named from this decade will have been retrospectively seen. And the selection process will also rely on recall of a number of pictures I