Report To The Commissioner


1h 52m 1975
Report To The Commissioner

Brief Synopsis

When a rookie cop accidentally kills a female cop working undercover in narcotics, he unwittingly becomes involved in a police department cover-up.

Film Details

Also Known As
Operation Undercover
MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Action
Crime
Drama
Release Date
1975
Location
Burbank Studios, Burbank, California, USA; New York City, New York, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Synopsis

When a rookie cop accidentally kills a female cop working undercover in narcotics, he unwittingly becomes involved in a police department cover-up.

Film Details

Also Known As
Operation Undercover
MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Action
Crime
Drama
Release Date
1975
Location
Burbank Studios, Burbank, California, USA; New York City, New York, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 52m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Articles

Report to the Commissioner



The first half of the 1970s saw a wave of gritty police films that took a more realistic approach to crime in big cities. The new rating system allowed movies to depict America's meaner streets in all their profane, racially stressed squalor, without censor oversight. The big shift came in 1971, when The French Connection and Dirty Harry showcased detectives that violated almost as many laws as the criminals they pursued. Police corruption, race hatred, vigilantism and general civic chaos permeated the semi-docu thrillers: Across 110th Street (1972) , The Laughing Policeman, Serpico, Badge 373 (all 1973) and Busting (1974).

One of the best police corruption thrillers is the latecomer Report to the Commissioner (1975). Bestselling author James Mills was no stranger to life on the street, having previously written the source book for The Panic in Needle Park (1971). The adaptation by Abby Mann (Judgment at Nuremberg, 1961) and Ernest Tidyman (The French Connection, Shaft, both 1971) retains Mills' vision of a hopelessly snarled NYPD.

Report to the Commissioner focuses on two dedicated young detectives doomed by their corrupt superiors. The squad room dismisses the idealistic Beauregard "Bo" Lockley (Michael Moriarty) as a hippie and a space case; instead of intimidating the shady street people on his beat, Bo befriends them. Bo's experienced partner, Richard "Crunch" Blackstone (Yaphet Kotto) also considers him a general liability.

The deceitful Captain D'Angelo (Hector Elizondo) assigns Bo to find a missing police detective, young Patty Butler (Susan Blakely). Only D'Angelo knows that Patty is working undercover to bust the major drug kingpin Stick Henderson (Tony King). Going way beyond the rule book, the recklessly gung-ho Patty has gained the criminal's confidence by becoming his live-in lover. D'Angelo has chosen Bo precisely because he expects him to fail; he only wants to cover his tail in case something bad happens to Patty.

But the precinct has underestimated Bo's intelligence and tenacity. Newfound street contact Joey Egan (Bob Balaban) leads him straight to Patty, which is the worst thing that could happen. Bo thinks he's rescuing her, when he's putting her life in grave danger. The coverup lies reach all the way up the chain of command, from Chief Perna (Dana Elcar) right hand to the Police Commissioner (Stephen Elliott), who cannot get honest information from his cops. None of Bo Lockley's colleagues will explain to him what it was all about. They instead try to throw him under the bus.

The action centerpiece is a wild chase on the rooftops of Times Square. The danger is magnified by the fact that the armed fugitive is naked save for his underwear. Actor Tony King also worked as a stuntman and stunt coordinator and can be seen sprinting across those trash-littered roofs and streets in his bare feet.

To direct Report to the Commissioner producer M.J. Frankovich selected Milton Katselas, who had previously directed the stage hit Butterflies are Free both on Broadway and film (1972). The casting of supporting parts is particularly good. William Devane appears as an overburdened assistant DA. Among the cops is Sonny Grosso, one of the original detectives in the real 'French Connection' case. Noelle North's teen prostitute is as believable as Jodie Foster's prostitute and runaway in Taxi Driver (1976). In his first feature appearance, future star Richard Gere plays an unpleasant pimp.

The film should have made major players of Michael Moriarty and Susan Blakely. Her fearless Patty Butler makes a big impression with little screen time. As played by Michael Moriarty, Bo Lockley's intense trauma is painful to watch. Moriarty had commanded attention as a quirky baseball player opposite Robert De Niro in the acclaimed drama Bang the Drum Slowly (1973). In Who'll Stop the Rain and the TV miniseries Holocaust (both 1978) he continued to specialize in passive, slightly neurotic characters, at a time when America was looking for fantasy heroes like Sly Stallone in Rocky (1976).

Reviewers blamed Report's mild box office on its downbeat conclusion. The unhappy tale is also told non-sequentially, beginning with the aftermath that becomes a political debacle for the police hierarchy. The tragic finale is telegraphed at the beginning of the final act, creating something of an anti-climax. Critics noted that similar editorial flash-forwards dampened the excitement and suspense of Sidney Lumet's heist thriller The Anderson Tapes (1971).

In the name of heightened realism, many other '70s crime tales confronted audiences with an onslaught of street profanity. Going against the trend, Report to the Commissioner paints its convincing view of the squalid, seamy streets of Manhattan '75 without expletives -- the movie received a 'PG' rating.

By Glenn Erickson
Report To The Commissioner

Report to the Commissioner

The first half of the 1970s saw a wave of gritty police films that took a more realistic approach to crime in big cities. The new rating system allowed movies to depict America's meaner streets in all their profane, racially stressed squalor, without censor oversight. The big shift came in 1971, when The French Connection and Dirty Harry showcased detectives that violated almost as many laws as the criminals they pursued. Police corruption, race hatred, vigilantism and general civic chaos permeated the semi-docu thrillers: Across 110th Street (1972) , The Laughing Policeman, Serpico, Badge 373 (all 1973) and Busting (1974). One of the best police corruption thrillers is the latecomer Report to the Commissioner (1975). Bestselling author James Mills was no stranger to life on the street, having previously written the source book for The Panic in Needle Park (1971). The adaptation by Abby Mann (Judgment at Nuremberg, 1961) and Ernest Tidyman (The French Connection, Shaft, both 1971) retains Mills' vision of a hopelessly snarled NYPD. Report to the Commissioner focuses on two dedicated young detectives doomed by their corrupt superiors. The squad room dismisses the idealistic Beauregard "Bo" Lockley (Michael Moriarty) as a hippie and a space case; instead of intimidating the shady street people on his beat, Bo befriends them. Bo's experienced partner, Richard "Crunch" Blackstone (Yaphet Kotto) also considers him a general liability. The deceitful Captain D'Angelo (Hector Elizondo) assigns Bo to find a missing police detective, young Patty Butler (Susan Blakely). Only D'Angelo knows that Patty is working undercover to bust the major drug kingpin Stick Henderson (Tony King). Going way beyond the rule book, the recklessly gung-ho Patty has gained the criminal's confidence by becoming his live-in lover. D'Angelo has chosen Bo precisely because he expects him to fail; he only wants to cover his tail in case something bad happens to Patty. But the precinct has underestimated Bo's intelligence and tenacity. Newfound street contact Joey Egan (Bob Balaban) leads him straight to Patty, which is the worst thing that could happen. Bo thinks he's rescuing her, when he's putting her life in grave danger. The coverup lies reach all the way up the chain of command, from Chief Perna (Dana Elcar) right hand to the Police Commissioner (Stephen Elliott), who cannot get honest information from his cops. None of Bo Lockley's colleagues will explain to him what it was all about. They instead try to throw him under the bus. The action centerpiece is a wild chase on the rooftops of Times Square. The danger is magnified by the fact that the armed fugitive is naked save for his underwear. Actor Tony King also worked as a stuntman and stunt coordinator and can be seen sprinting across those trash-littered roofs and streets in his bare feet. To direct Report to the Commissioner producer M.J. Frankovich selected Milton Katselas, who had previously directed the stage hit Butterflies are Free both on Broadway and film (1972). The casting of supporting parts is particularly good. William Devane appears as an overburdened assistant DA. Among the cops is Sonny Grosso, one of the original detectives in the real 'French Connection' case. Noelle North's teen prostitute is as believable as Jodie Foster's prostitute and runaway in Taxi Driver (1976). In his first feature appearance, future star Richard Gere plays an unpleasant pimp. The film should have made major players of Michael Moriarty and Susan Blakely. Her fearless Patty Butler makes a big impression with little screen time. As played by Michael Moriarty, Bo Lockley's intense trauma is painful to watch. Moriarty had commanded attention as a quirky baseball player opposite Robert De Niro in the acclaimed drama Bang the Drum Slowly (1973). In Who'll Stop the Rain and the TV miniseries Holocaust (both 1978) he continued to specialize in passive, slightly neurotic characters, at a time when America was looking for fantasy heroes like Sly Stallone in Rocky (1976). Reviewers blamed Report's mild box office on its downbeat conclusion. The unhappy tale is also told non-sequentially, beginning with the aftermath that becomes a political debacle for the police hierarchy. The tragic finale is telegraphed at the beginning of the final act, creating something of an anti-climax. Critics noted that similar editorial flash-forwards dampened the excitement and suspense of Sidney Lumet's heist thriller The Anderson Tapes (1971). In the name of heightened realism, many other '70s crime tales confronted audiences with an onslaught of street profanity. Going against the trend, Report to the Commissioner paints its convincing view of the squalid, seamy streets of Manhattan '75 without expletives -- the movie received a 'PG' rating. By Glenn Erickson

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States February 1975

Released in United States on Video April 1988

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1975

Film debut for actor Richard Gere.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1975

Released in United States February 1975

Released in United States on Video April 1988