Report to the Commissioner (1975) Poster

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So much talent, so early in their careers.
HiLander-48 May 1999
You'll overlook this film unless you really are an Aquarian and remember its original theatrical run. Not as highly regarded as Serpico. or Prince of the City, but just as important as one of the breakthrough films that suggested cops could be the bad guys, or, more accurately," ...there are no good guys, there are no bad guys, there's only you and me and we two disagree..". If, by chance you ever see this on the rental shelf, or late night TV, watch it, and you won't be sorry, even if only to see a chronicle of the times before anti-heroes regularly wore badges.

"Homicide" (also starring Yaphet Kotto), "Law and Order" (also, originally, starring Michael Moriarity)...even "Hill Street Blues" owe a debt to this gritty, depressing view of the law enforcement establishment.

In retrospect, watching this film adds significance to the subsequent work of its company.
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Know The Players
bkoganbing5 March 2008
Report to the Commissioner is a film about a misfit detective who does not heed the warning of his senior partner and gets himself into one beautiful jackpot as Andy Sipowicz would put it. It's an underrated classic film from the seventies with an interesting cast and a lot of good performances.

Abby Mann wrote the original screenplay of Report to the Commissioner and Mann who is famous for writing Judgement at Nuremberg also is the creator of that classic police series Kojak from the seventies. The film does have a Kojak feel to it. Shooting the thing entirely on location in New York really helps with the believability of the plot.

Michael Moriarty plays a young and very naive detective assigned to what looks to be the Midtown North Precinct in Manhattan. He comes from a police family and he's assigned to partner with Yaphett Kotto who worked with Moriarty's father.

At the same time Susan Blakely is a young, fresh faced, but most experienced detective whose all American good looks fool a lot of perpetrators. She decides to get close to a big time drug dealer played by Tony King to get the goods on him.

To make her cover as a runaway sound feasible, higher up captain Hector Elizondo has Moriarty make some routine inquiries looking for Blakely under her street name of Chicklet. The only problem is that Moriarty takes the assignment way too seriously, earnestly trying to win respect among his peers. It results in tragedy all around.

The cast is really finely tuned in this film. Especially Elizondo who will chill you with his attitude. He turns in a fine performance as a bureaucratic cop real good at department politics, but a real snake as a human being.

In one of his earliest roles is William Devane who has only one scene in the film questioning Moriarty about what's happened. Devane's a hotshot Assistant District Attorney who's practically salivating over a homicide conviction, another scalp for his lodgepole so to speak. You will remember him.

Report to the Commissioner is a nice look at the Seventies in New York and a great police drama. You will agree that Yaphett Kotto gave Moriarty the best advice about knowing the players in a given situation.
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Nothing is ever as it seems.
Hey_Sweden28 July 2016
The 70s were definitely a great time for cinema, giving us gritty NYC thrillers and dramas like "Across 110th Street", "Serpico", "The French Connection", and "Dog Day Afternoon". "Report to the Commissioner", based on the novel by James Mills, can join those ranks, with its matter of fact, semi-documentary approach. Its characters are vivid and convincing, and the performances memorable. The story allows for some tense scenarios, and offers an interesting look into departmental politics within the police department, and how this sort of thing can create its share of victims.

Michael Moriarty stars as Beauregard "Bo" Lockley, a hippie-ish rookie detective on the police force who's overwhelmingly naive. He's partnered with the hard-boiled veteran Richard "Crunch" Blackstone (Yaphet Kotto), and gets a little taste of the street life. His own "doing good" mentality gets him into a lot of trouble when he ends up shooting Patty Butler (Susan Blakely), a beautiful young detective working deep undercover. She'd made the bold decision to move in with a drug pusher, Thomas "Stick" Henderson (Tony King) to get the goods on him, and Lockley had been fed a line of bull about her identity in order to make the whole thing look good. Now the NYPD has to decide what to do with this mess, and how much to tell the commissioner (Stephen Elliott).

For this viewer, the only real debit was Moriarty. Sometimes his eccentricities can benefit a movie (ex: his hilarious performance in "Q: The Winged Serpent"), but here, he's just too whiny and mannered to make his character as sympathetic as he should be. Fortunately, there's lots of heavy hitters here to pick up the slack: Kotto, Blakely, Hector Elizondo, Michael McGuire, Dana Elcar, Bob Balaban, William Devane, Elliott, Vic Tayback. And it's cool to see a young Richard Gere making his film debut as Billy the pimp. Real life NYC detectives Sonny Grosso and Albert Seedman have small roles.

Some of the story is played out in the form of interviews, helping us to get insight into character motivations. There's one damn entertaining, and lengthy, foot chase, which also delivers beefcake for the audience because the studly King is running around wearing little. The entire sequence on the elevator is riveting, especially since we definitely get a sense of how hot it must be in there for Moriarty and King. And Balaban figures in what has to be one of the most original "tailing" sequences seen on film. The location shooting (cinematography by Mario Tosi) is excellent, and Elmer Bernstein supplies a sometimes unusual but generally effective music score.

This one is well worth catching for fans of the actors and lovers of 70s cinema.

Eight out of 10.
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Cops don't even like each other
helpless_dancer13 January 2002
A not too likable, idealistic young detective is given an assignment which was unnecessary and therefore led to a tragedy and a shakeup in the police hierarchy. The detective, who was totally useless as a policeman, got all wrapped up emotionally with his assignment and acted completely irrationally when confronted with a dangerous situation. I liked the way the film jumped back and forth in time and depicted life in the department and in the inner city realistically. I didn't care for the way a pad happened to be placed conveniently on the rooftop so the jumpers would have a soft landing. Good drama well worth watching.
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Report to the Commissioner
jdamico525 September 2005
I just got back from a film club screening of Report to the Commissioner, followed by a Q & A with Jonathan Demme...I loved it!

I thought that Michael Moriarity's performance was amazing; he was able to capture the ambivalence of wanting to do "the right thing", according to his value system, and carrying out the legacy that his father had wanted for his older brother, who'd been killed in Vietnam.

His internal torture was brilliantly played in the elevator scene, in which he was wordless, but communicated his conflict and terror chillingly nonetheless.

The most touching scene for me was when he was giving his statement to the police officials. When he was questioned about his "subversive" college activities he poignantly stated that he had protested the (Vietnam) war. It was resonant for me, having been one of those protesters, and relevant to these times--- our war in Iraq, and the current political environment which implies that anyone protesting it is "un-American".

Looking at the demographics on this site in terms of voting on this film, I find it very interesting that my age cohort gave this film the highest ratings. Perhaps it's because we lived through times that make this film cinema verite'. I'd love to hear other's opinions on this interesting phenomenon.
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Bad tag line for a good movie
Miles-107 November 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I haven't seen this movie in years, but I would not mind seeing it again. Pretty good, gritty cop movie. Why do I hate the tag line? Because with a tag liner like that, who needs a spoiler? Moriarty's performance is very typical of the period and of his performances during the 1970s (see also "Who'll Stop the Rain"). I'd be curious to see him again because he was unknown to me in 1975, I'd compare his performance to what he's done since. When I think back on that movie, I now imagine it as if a young Gordon Clapp played the lead. Everyone else is memorable, too. Susan Blakely knocked me out--and that was when she was fully dressed. Yaphet Kotto is rightly well-remember for this movie. But I would not want to see this movie remade only because I generally do like to see remakes. They make me feel old.
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A true story........
jcm1136017 May 2005
I was one of the many bystanders who witnessed part of the major scene which took place on location in front of and inside Sak's 5th Avenue in Manhattan, a lunch hour that turned into two. I believe it was based on a true event and is documented in the NYPD files.As for the movie it was one of the best and well acted movies of the seventies in my opinion. I have been trying to get a copy of it for years.The movies involves a screw-up that leaves a female undercover cop dead because the brass feel asleep and later looked for and found a scapegoat, sound familiar? As I mentioned the acting was great, all of the cast acted as if they been NY City cops at some point in their lives.
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another overlooked underrated work of genius
Pookie-1014 September 2002
Here we have yet ANOTHER case of an extremely underrated film. is everyone out of their minds?? Whats with all the mediocre reviews/comments? And here we go with the "it isn't as good as the book" comments. I thought I cleared that up when I reviewed "Slaughterhouse Five" A great cast in a fascinating gritty 70's crime thriller, VISUALLY much in the vein of French Connection, Taking of Pelham 1,2 3 or Panic in Needle Park. The sequence with Bob Balaban as the maniac amputee was brilliant, Susan Blakely is beautiful, story is fascinating. Thank god I had the chance to see this on film (as a pristine 16mm print) I'm looking forward to seeing the 2nd reel.
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Classic Seventies
skywardpictures29 November 2004
Okay, so there aren't enough reviews praising this? So, I will write one. It is not so much that this film is underrated, it deserves the place it has, in the unvarnished uniqueness of post French Connection New York films greenlit because Connection won best picture. This picture is interesting because in the middle of all the crime stuff, it's center is really a chewy for relationships (the kind that guys write after watching 'The Dirty Dozen' or 'Serpico' 20 times), and it is that dark center of distrust with it's dangerous home truths that provides the engine of drama.

Ever feel like that's all life is -- police stories? This one will fuel you're suspicions, if you allow yourself to go along with it (which is hard to do), but that's what New York dark cinema is supposed to do.

But see it to celebrate Susan Blakely, with 'Rich Man Poor Man' as the second part of the double bill. She has her place as a TV queen but before that she also did some very nice work large screen and showed real promise with this pic. The wardrobe, the Tidyman script, the Tosi cinematography in New York, and with the tortured performance of Moriarty there you have it. It is not a satisfying film, that is why the reactions, but it isn't supposed to be. "Report to the Commissioner" happens every day here, ask James Mills who wrote it, he has since discovered it happens all over the world.

Watch 'The Way We Were' after to see Blakely just coming on the scene, if this one is too dark for you, or, 'Who'll Stop the Rain' to see Moriarty.
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Gets better as it goes along
Wizard-812 March 2017
Warning: Spoilers
While "Report to the Commissioner" isn't a perfect movie, there is always a kernel of interest to keep viewers interested enough to watch to the very end. The first half I will admit is weaker than the second half - actor Michael Moriarty seems too wimpish and naive to be a police officer, and the plot moves along very slowly. But even during this weaker first half, the movie offers a fascinating slice of life of what New York City was like in the early 1970s; you can really feel the grit and atmosphere. Patient viewers will be rewarded with a lively second half. There are a couple of well directed pursuit sequences, and the whole elevator sequence is quite riveting. And the ending, while somewhat predictable, does pack a punch. Fans of cynical 1970s cop movies will enjoy this best, though it's also rewarding to others, provided they possess a reasonable amount of patience.
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jmorrison-219 July 2002
I had read this book many years ago, and was captivated by the story based on true events. The story was exceptional, and told a tragic story of corruption and dishonesty within the New York Police Force.

The movie, however, thoroughly disappointed me. The decision to cast Michael Moriarty as the young, out-of-his-element cop was a mistake. His over-the-top whining, childish character totally ruined this for me. I couldn't believe this guy would have ever been allowed out of the police academy. A decent opportunity to portray a gripping, true-life episode, goes down the drain with a very questionnable casting decision.

What made this doubly disappointing was the excellent performances from the rest of the cast, and the gritty, realistic look of a grimy New York, and the slimy characters slithering around under the surface.
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You Gotta See This Film. Why? 'cause I said so. That's why.
paul vincent zecchino8 November 2009
Yeah. You gotta see this film. No, I mean like you gotta. Like now. So go do it, alright? Or else we got nothing', talk about.

Yeah, OK, I know, ain't the greatest film going', far from it, fact.

But hey, you like them late 60's - early 70's Land Arks they called cars? Everybody does, right? I know I do. Most my buddies do, too. I drove 'em. And you did, too. Huge Chryslers with massive Big-Block 383's with 'Purple Cams'. Awesome Plymouths rigged out with 440 Interceptors, headers, and dead quiet Imperial Mufflers that could stomp any one these dreary green electro-turkeys what they drive today.

These cars were big, fast, mean, and required a state the size, Idaho, there, pull a '180 at speed but so what? They were long, comfy, and powerful because they weren't smog motor dogs like them late 70s - early 80s rats, were they? Nor did cars in "Report to the Commissioner" need computer geek tricks to get out of their own way, the way these 'hybrids' that resemble elephant suppositories do today, right? They'd kick the snot out of any four-cylinder phony what thought he was hot stuff, couldn't they? That's why you see 'em, this film, isn't it? You know it.

And, hey, you like Industrial Archaeology? Is Urban Exploration your secret passion? You get off, spooking around inside boarded-up factories, power plants, and nut houses? Then you gonna dig this film. Why? Because it was shot during the depressed 70s when Manhattan hit the skids that them Coward-Piven commies greased up for them, special.

Decrevalent old buildings with bricks in need of pointing and windows that cried out for glazing were crowned by wooden water tanks that seeped rusty ooze, across whose roofs cops shot it out with thugs.

Junkies abounded. They drooled. They yammered. They accosted citizens who took out their aggressions on double-amputees who scurried about on roller-creepers. This in turn whelped to an entire genre of ghoulish Gahan Wilson cartoons.

Yaphet Kotto, the son of a Crown Prince of Cameroon - don't take my word for it, go look it up on this site, already, what, I got to do your homework too, crying out loud? - commands this film in which a young Michael Moriarity plays the reluctant detective.

And the Precinct House? Oh, you're one these kids, here, thinks 'The Job' is about cops who dress up in sexy leotards, whisper at one another in sterile luxury CSI suites while computers solve their cases?

Yeah. Well, think again. Wake up, smell the Kerosene, there, Poochie.

Real Precinct houses stunk like B.O., cigar smoke, junkie-sweat, cordite, and stuff ya can't write about here - use your imagination, if video games haven't erased it by now. Cops typed reports on ancient clattering Underwoods, using two fingers to do so, as arrestees who stunk like Hoagies bounced around inside cages next, the cops' desks, and caterwauled like moonstruck werewolves.

Dispatchers called cops on real VHF and UHF analog radios, not today's commie-punk '800 megahertz trunked digital' kluges that crash every time some Park Avenue socialite passes gas in the drawing room. From where I lived, Point Judith, Rhode Island, you could hear NYPD calls two hundred miles away. How'd I do that? 'cause my friend John S_____. up the road, Wakefield, was doin' it since Joseph Petrosino walked a beat that's how, and he showed me. You got any more questions?

Yeah. You gotta see this film. After readin' this, I think you maybe now understan' a little better how come, right? Am I right?

Paul Vincent Zecchino

Manasota Key, Florida

08 November, 2009
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I want a Report! Not a Cover-Up!
sol12187 April 2007
****SPOILERS*** there's sleazy goings on in the the NYPD in "Report to the Commissioner" with policewoman Patty Butler, Susan Blakley, ending up dead with a bullet in her chest during a wild and deadly shoot-out in her boyfriends drug dealer Thomas "Stick" Henderson, Tony King, loft apartment. It turns out that Officer Butler's killer in non other the NYPD Det. Beaueguard, known as just plain Bo to his friends, Lockery ,Michael Moriarty. Unknown to Officer Butler Det. Lockery was given the task to track her, known to Det. Lockery only as Chicklet, down to protect her undercover status by being told that she's a teenage runaway from the suburbs.

Det. Bo Lockery a complete dud as a cop is only on the force because of the early 1970's NYC police youth recruitment drive to get the young people of the city to have something in common with the men in blue as well as Bo's dad being a former and very highly decorated New York City policeman. We soon get to see in a number of flashbacks about this whole crazy and murderous mess and how Det. Lockery mindlessly got himself into it.

The events that lead up to the shooting of policewoman Bulter started with Officer Butler herself volunteering to become Stick's women, or live in wife, so she could win over his confidence. This action was done on Butler's part in order to get the goods on Stick as the city's top drug pusher and with that have him put away, and off the streets, for a long long time. It has to be said that at first Butler's boss Let. Hanson, Michael McGuire, wasn't all that crazy for one of his cops, and a woman at that, being shacked up with the dangerous "Stick" Henderson. Still with Offcer Butlers constant insistence, and her record of 283 felony arrests the year before, how could he refuse!

To give Officer Butler some kind of cover the NYPD has the totally incompetent Det. Bo Lockery put on her tail without even giving him a photo of Butler or even her name. Det. Lockery miraculously finds her with the help of the legless, and mentally unstable, street panhandler Joey, Bob Balaban, and street wise pimp Billy, Richard Gere! This to the shock and disgust of Det. Lockery's boss back at the police precinct Let. Sedensticker, Vic Taybeck. Lockery tracking Butler in effect blows the whole Henderson/Stick sting operation as well as ends up blowing a hole in Officer Butler's chest killing her.

Det. Lockery himself is a piece of work being totally unqualified to be a cop, much less detective. Det. Lockery is also a pain in the a** to his partner the tough and street smart Det. Richard "Crunch" Blackstone,Yaphet Kotto. Det.Blackstone gets so unnerved and discombobulated, especially with Bo's annoyingly syrupy and insipid sing-song voice, in his having to put up with his schmuck of a partner annoying as well as bird brain antics that by the end of the movie he almost ends up drinking himself into a drunken stupor!

Finding out just who this Chicklet, really Offcer Butler, is Det. Lockery, like Travis Bickel a year later in the movie "Taxi Driver", becomes absolutely infatuated with her in trying to get Chicklet away from her pimp lover who in reality she's planning to bust. In Lockery trying to set up and bust Stick himself he sneaks into Officer Butler and Stick's loft not knowing exactly what officer Butler, or Chicklet, is supposed to be doing there! With Det. Lockery seeing Chicklet, who's white, romping around practically nude with Stick, who's black, in his boxer shorts was just about all the abuse that he could take which soon leads to the bloody shoot-out that cost Chicklet's or Offic Butler's life.

After a chase through the crowded streets of mid-town Manhattan and shootout in the elevator of Saks 5th avenue department store Stick, who was trapped in the elevator with Bo, ends up getting blown away by the NYPD. The police department, in covering it's behind, tries to pin all the blame on the clueless Det. Lockery in Officer Butlers death but has so effectively incriminated itself in being behind Officer Butlers ridicules plan that the NYPD later decided to drop the whole thing. The NYPD gives Det. Lockery another chance as a New York City policeman only to have the now emotionally crippled cop, who didn't know that he was about to be freed, put an end to it all by hanging himself in his prison cell.

A sad commentary on how people totally unqualified end up wearing badges and carrying guns because of misguided policies by police departments all over the country. In them trying to be either politically correct or bending the rules and pulling strings in order to get relatives, in this case a son,into the department. All this because someone in their family was once, or still is, a police officer. Bo Lockely was about as qualified to be a cop, much less detective, as 98 pound weakling Woody Allan was qualified, back then in 1975, to fight Muhammad Ali or George Foreman for the Heavyweight Championship of the world. In Lockerys case the unconceivable, him being a policeman, became a sad reality and that reality not only lead to Officer Butler's death but his own as well.
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Gritty, scarce NYC cop flick
stevenfallonnyc9 May 2018
It's great to watch a film you remember as a kid, but haven't seen in a long time. "Report to the Commissioner" is one of those films I remember liking a real lot, and I just watched it for the first time in forty years.

Funny how time makes you remember some things incorrectly - for instance, somehow I remembered Yaphet Kotto being in the elevator with Michael Moriarty, not "Stick" the heroin dealer played by Tony King. (The elevator scenes are nothing short of spectacular.)

"Report to the Commissioner" starts off a little slow and hap-hazard, but really picks up after a short while, mainly due to Moriarty's fine acting (although everyone else in the cast also does a great job). He's a tortured soul who really doesn't want to be a cop, and who gets into some serious trouble. Moriarty puts on one of his best performances.

Yaphet Kotto is great in anything he's in, and Susan Blakely was easily one of the most beautiful actresses of the seventies. Other familiar faces are all over as the drama builds to a harrowing final half hour.

Another thing I didn't remember was the ending, which hits hard, and kind of makes sense when you think about it. There's also a wild foot chase through the rooftops and streets on Times Square (love the crowds watching the filming).

The seventies was such a fantastic time for films - no political correct nonsense, just real street elbow grease film making, with actors and actresses who didn't mind getting their feet dirty (in Tony King's case, literally). "Report to the Commissioner" is a good viewing.
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Could've sworn I was watching Jon Voight for about the first half hour!
sumankey139 January 2019
Honestly a great old 70's throwback movie that captures the colors, sights, sounds, and smells...and sometimes seedy circumstances that were those times. Well put-together. I looked up that actor. god bless em he resembles Voight, but is in alot of ways quite superior
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Fatally flawed
tom_jeffords11 April 2002
Warning: Spoilers
WARNING! CONTAINS SPOILERS! I really wanted to like this movie but I just could not. This cast is just excellent. Any movie where Richard Gere is an extra has a good cast. I mean hey, Michael Moriatry, Yaphet Kotto, and Suan Blakely is hard to beat. But the plot is just not believeable. Undercover policewoman moves with a dope dealer to get the goods on him? HELLO! Anything she comes up with is instantly thrown out of court! And it goes down hill from there.
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Count the stars
donb-519-3350752 October 2013
A romp thru the 70's. One of my best buddies introduced this 70's detective flick to me - and I really enjoyed it. Not knowing who was in it beyond Michael Moriarity and Yaphet Kotto, it was fun naming the future stars of both the little and big screen in this film. HInt: there are at least 5, not including Moriarity and Kotto.

The story line is fairly predictable including the "shocking" ending, but there are some great scenes: crippled beggar hitching a ride on a taxi in Times Square (can you say Michael J Fox in Back to The Future?); face to face "mexican standoff" in an small elevator (Reservoir Dogs redux - without all the F words); roof top chase on foot - except in this case a slow limping white boy catches the slim athletic black guy (not gonna happen) - reminiscent of free running opening scene in Casino Royale.

And finally in the predictable "hang the cop out to dry" scene Michael Moriarity implicates himself far better than any interrogator ever could! Pretty hilarious!

But, all in all, an enjoyable experience. The more I think about it, this was a ground-breaking movie that predates some of the classics we all love - and introduced some great future stars. So let's give some credit to this 70's epic. DonB
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