Monday, April 18, 2016

TODAY'S NUGGET: Prince of the City (1981) - Showing the Grey of Corruption

[Quick Summary:  Corrupt narcotics cop agrees to inform on his fellow cops for the Chase Commission, but isn't prepared for the heavy toll it takes.]

Could you write a script showing how corruption is a fast and easy crime?

The correct answer is NO, and this script shows why:

1) Corruption is a repeated behavior over time, i.e., a pattern.

INTERPRETATION: Your script will probably be long. Here, it's 183 pgs.

2) Corruption trips up people in the details.

INTERPRETATION: Your script, like this one, will likely be very dense, with multiple characters, locations, and/or situations.

3) The effects of corruption on the participants and families are heavy.

INTERPRETATION: This script is an ambitious, troubling, realistic portrayal of what cops have to do when waging a war against drugs, and it isn't nice and neat.

This script really shines in showing egos, doubts, and dilemmas. 

Danny Ciello is a good man, loyal friend. and an effective NYPD narcotics cop who does many questionable things in the line of duty.

He protects his squad, but he also passes drugs to informants. 

He won't squeal on his friends, but when Brooks Paige (U.S. Attorney's Office) comes asking for help, Danny is flattered and wants to play in the big leagues.

In the scene below, Ciello is talking to his wife Carla:

ex. "CIELLO: But Carla... I've found a very important friend.

CARLA: More important than your old friends?

CIELLO: It's different. This guy Paige... it's crazy but I want to run up the wall for him. Remember that old science fiction movie When the Earth Stood Still? And this tall, good-looking guy from another planet came and fixed everything -- Michael Rennie? You just looked at him and knew he could handle it...

CARLA: What is it you think this Paige's going to handle so great?

CIELLO: (a beat) Well, Loughlin, for one.

CARLA: Loughlin shouldn't have been in in the first place.

CIELLO: (suddenly miserable) I know that. I know..."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Even though there was no easy answers and it was all greys, I felt the ending was well-earned, which was no easy feat.

Prince of the City (1981)
by Jay Presson Allen and Sidney Lumet
Based on the book by Robert Daley

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