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Oct. 30, 2008

It's all in the family

by Jeremy Gradwohl, Online Op/Ed Editor
Of an all too familiar genre of cop dramas, "Pride and Glory" had to create a dynamite, new angle to sell to film cynics. The movie does just this by creating an urban incest of conflicting police activity between two brothers-in-law. When Edward Norton's character is being questioned by other police officers, it's as if he speaks directly to film skeptics, "this isn't going to go how you want it to." "Pride and Glory" combines high-quality acting with intriguing visual artistry to rejuvenate its tired genre.

(released December 31, 1969)
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Ray Tierney (Edward Norton), a weathered homicide detective from the New York Police Department, is recruited to a task force investigating corruption. Initially Ray believes that Francis (Noah Emmerich), his older brother and captain of the precinct, is the source of the corruption, but suspicions soon turn to Ray's brother-in-law, police officer Jimmy (Colin Farrell). "Pride and Glory" puts a new spin on the exhausted crime drama genre by making the main characters all from the same family with many generations of police officers.
The casting couldn't have been better. Edward Norton fills his role as the jaded yet honest detective, while Colin Farrell fits perfectly into the shoes of a crooked and troubled young police officer. The two well-known A-list actors fit on the screen with each other with perfect chemistry. The difficulties in Ray's life, such as his investigation on Jimmy, a Christmas dinner guest, are poignantly portrayed by Norton.

The cinematography conveys the cynicism of the city that never sleeps. Director Gavin O'Connor uses vivid images to portray the bitter cold and harshness of winter. Huddling with his cohorts in an empty lot, Jimmy resolves to set his own squad car on fire. Picture the opposite of "Miracle on 34th street" or "When Harry Met Sally" because the movie makes anybody who chooses to live in New York during the winter look crazy.

The vibrant cinematography glosses over a somewhat dry script. Police dramas have never been known to be particularly articulate and "Pride and Glory" plays to the stereotype. Most of the dialogue in the movie is shouted and becomes predictable as the movie goes on. The screenplay has its most successful moments with subplots into dealing with family drama - for example, Ray's mother coping with terminal cancer.

"Pride and Glory," however, does not stray from the underlying cynical attitude that typical police films embody. Seeing Jimmy and his band of traitor cops describe how they corruptly sold their police badge to the "highest bidder" basically indoctrinates skepticism as if it were an American value. Maybe it's easier for filmmakers to work the pessimistic angle; maybe O'Connor in this specific instance was trying to make the audience share the film's gloom. Either way, this is another occasion where "Pride and Glory" falls short.

A new premise in a Hollywood film is hard to find. "Pride and Glory" combines it with quality acting and directing for a worthwhile crime drama film.

Pride and Glory (130 minutes) is rated R for strong violence, pervasive language and brief drug content. Now playing in theaters everywhere.



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  • #1 fan on October 30, 2008 at 7:27 PM
    Jeremy, your ability to let the reader enter into whatever you are writing about is why you have true skill in the art of journalism. Without you and your voice, chips stories are not complete. I look forward to the next piece that shows up with your name in the byline. Love, your number one fan.
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