Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Night Falls on Manhattan


Two cops, Ian Holm and James Gandolfini (two years before his big break as Tony Soprano), are staking out a place where they think Jordan Washington, Harlem’s biggest drug dealer, may be staying. Foolishly, they decide to go get him without calling for SWAT first. Jordan fires through the door with an AK or an Uzi, badly wounding Ian. Almost at once every cop in New York City (well, at least a big percentage of them) descends on the building, but the piece of shit kills two cops and uses one of their uniforms to make his escape.

Andy Garcia is Ian’s son, a newly-minted assistant DA, and is given the slam-dunk case by a calculating DA (Ron Leibman, who I have always liked ever since he played Stan Murch in Donald Westlake’s comic caper, The Hot Rock). The piece of shit turns himself in to his attorney, Richard Dreyfuss, who mounts a defense that the guy was legitimately defending himself because he knew corrupt cops were intending to assassinate him. Andy goads the loathsome prick to attack him in open court, and easily wins the case. The old DA has a heart attack, and Andy is picked to run for the job, which he easily wins.

You can see everything else coming right up Broadway, like a Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon of Spongebob Squarepants. IAD soon contacts Andy. The most corrupt of the cops has been fished out of the Hudson, and he had a book listing the other cops who had taken money for protection. Soon a couple of them are singing. Andy’s pop had not taken any money, but his partner had. What they had both done, though, is use an expired warrant for the attempted takedown of the piece of shit. If that comes out, the piece of shit will walk away, a free man … free, at least, until the cops can find an excuse to blow his ass away. It is all well-written and well-directed by Sidney Lumet, and well-acted by all, including Lena Olin as the defense lawyer Andy falls for, but there are no surprises at all. I wished for a lot more from all this talent.