New DVDs: Two by Martin Ritt

Overpraised in his time, underestimated in ours: the fate that has befallen Martin Ritt is hardly unusual, but the man did make some decent movies — a couple of which, “The Spy Who Came in From the Cold” (1965) and “Sounder” (1972),” have come out on DVD today, and are the subject of my column in the New York Times this week.

For Pauline Kael, “Sounder” represented nothing less than “the birth of black consciousness on the screen” — a notion that seems, um, debatable today. But it’s still a nice little picture.

135 comments to New DVDs: Two by Martin Ritt

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘As long as we’re voting, let me hail “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold” as the screen’s most incisive and tragic study of international espionage in any and all periods of history’

    Have you seen SPY SORGE, last movie of Shinoda Masahiro? It’s true story about Soviet espionage against fascist Japan.

  • Junko Yasutani

    ‘he’s like Frankenstein’s monster on ludes.’

    dm494, what does this mean?

  • Frankenstein’s creature stumbled along. Creature on ‘ludes (or Quaaludes) would be the creature stumbling on sleeping pills.

    Arguably my favorite Chayefsky is Altered States–if only because of the total and fascinating disconnect between the writer and director’s style of storytelling.

    Actually thought the acting’s pretty good there too.

  • nicolas saada

    PRINCE OF NEW YORK is quite something, and it’s visually one of the most interesting films Lumet has ever made. Kent is right about the locations, which are stupendous, and as good as Friedkin’s FRENCH CONNECTION.
    SPY SORGE sounds really interesting Junko !!!

  • Mike

    Interesting thread, guys. FYI. Re Ritt’s “No Down Payment” and Lumet’s “Child’s Play,” both referred to here a few times, I found the following links to these two titles on Cinema Obscura — “No Down Payment” and “Child’s Play”.

  • alex hicks

    I remember reading somewhere in an interview with Kurosawa that he was a big admirer of PRINCE, especially of its look.

    Junko, are the Soviet agents bad guys in SPY SORGE,or are they perhaps good guys as in STORM OVER ASIA or a mixed bag as in THE LOVE OF JEANNE NEY?

  • Junko Yasutani

    Noel, thank you for explaining that.

    SPY SORGE interseting movie from famous incident. Kurosawa Akira movie WAGA SEISHUN NI KUI NASHI 1946 part based on Japanese Soviet spy Ozaki Hotsumi. Ozaki was heric figure after war, only Japanese citizen executed for treason. He was also authority on China, and his China books are still studied. He wrote best selling book of prison letters to his wife, still read in Japan. Stalinist system is criticzed, but spys are more the tragic figure than only good or bad.

    Shinoda wanted to make this movie for a long time, because Soviet spy files now could be studied more books about Sorge spy ring was written and people was interested. He retired after making this movie in 2003. It’s not the great movie, but still has many good scenes. I recommend to see it if anyone can.

  • Michael Dempsey

    Junko, thanks for commenting on “Spy Sorge.” Apparently, only occasional screenings of this film have taken place in the U.S. If I ever get a chance to see it and find that it ranks with “The Spy Who Came In From The Cold,” I’ll certainly be delighted.

    Masahiro Shinoda’s films have never gotten much distribution here. I’ve been able to see several, but most of them only once during the pre-home video years:

    “Gonza The Spearman” (“Yari no gonza”)– 1986 — an unusually restrained and elegant samural picture.

    “MacArthur’s Children” (“Setouchi shonen yakyu dan”) — 1984 — released here; a surprisingly calm, even benign portrait of relations between Japanese civilians, including children, and American troops during the Occupation.

    “Demon Pond” (“Yasha-ga-iko”) — 1979 — My memory can still summon up spooky shots of the title location.

    “Banished Orin” (“Hanare goze Orin”) — 1977 — Also called “The Ballad of Orin” and sometimes “Melody in Gray” here. Starring Shima Iwashita, Shinoda’s wife and frequent collaborator. I recall her emotional intensity and blind Orin’s wanderings in forested wilderness areas.

    “Himiko” — 1974 — I wish especially for another look at this film, for striking semi-abstract images linger of the goddess figure who, if memory serves, stands at the origins of Japanese society and, as such, represents a challenge to the Emperor system.

    “The Scandalous Adventures of Buraikan” (“Buraikan”) — 1970 — another U.S. release, a madcap samurai adventure comedy.

    “Double Suicide” (“Shinju: Ten no amijima”) — 1965 — Shinoda’s best-known film in the U.S., which I’ve watched many times for its fascinating imagery, its self-reflexive film-theatrical techniques, and Iwashita’s performances of two contrasting characters, but haven’t necessarily understood completely.

    “With Beauty And Sorrow” (“Utsuku shisa to kanashimi to”) — 1965 — I’d also like another look at this picture, as nothing remains of it in my recollection.

    “Samurai Spy” (“Ibun Sarutobi Sasuke”) — 1965 — which ought to be up there in public knowledge with “Yojimbo” and “Sanjuro”.

    “Pale Flower” (“Kawsaita hana”) — 1964 — a convoluted, strikingly dark yakuza picture packed with gangsters, gambling, and drugs — also lusciously saturated with the period’s decadence and youthful disaffection.

    “Pale Flower,” “Double Suicide,” and “Samurai Spy” are available on DVD here, the latter two from Criterion, and “MacArthur’s Children” was released on laser disk. It would be a great pleasure to find the others, along with additional titles, including “Spy Sorge” on the silver disks as well.

    Shinoda seems to have been an unusually protean director whose work should be better known around the world. I’m glad that Junko’s post has begun the process on this thread.

  • Wish we could see all these Shinoda movies!

    Pale Flower is basically a mood piece, notable for its spectacular visual style.

    Shinoda often shoots through grids and screens, in a manner recalling Max Ophuls. And he loves elaborate backgrounds in his walls. These sometimes include wall paintings, in the tradition of Josef von Sternberg. He also likes geometric patterns on the walls, often irregular, made up of an eclectic group of objects: curtains with regular folds, glass brick panels, checkerboard designs, etc.

    Shinoda also at one point shoots against a large irregular color field on a wall (in black and white). This echoes Michelangelo Antonioni, and still photographers of the era, who used found imagery to evoke Abstract Expressionist painting.

    Much of the visual style echoes film noir in general, and Fritz Lang in particular.

    Lang-like imagery includes many shots of clocks and staircases. During the climactic murder, the hero ascends a staircase, and we see an overhead shot of the stairs, in the best tradition of Lang’s M and much film noir.

    We see a revolving spiral behind the hero at one point. This recalls the spirals in Lang’s M and Fury. Later on, there will be another moving neon sign behind the hero, this one going up and down. This is one of many echo or doubling of images throughout Pale Flower.

    Shinoda likes to shoot through windows, doorways, openings in grids and panels, etc, in his interiors. This gives a window within the screen effect. Lang used this a good deal in Spione.

    There are many scenes in the film of a gambling board. It is a large white space on the floor, in which players arrange game tiles or piles of cash. These tiles and paper money are arranged in rectilinear geometric patterns that recall the painter Mondrian. Such rectilinear patterns immediately suggest Ozu, in the context of Japanese cinema. But they also recall Lang’s regular geometric arrays of large numbers of objects, such as are seen in M, You and Me or An American Guerrilla in the Philippines.

    Shinoda echoes these gambling shots with street scenes, in which the central narrow area of the street echoes the white gambling board, and the buildings around both sides recall the gamblers seated around the playing board.

    Later, we get an even wittier and stranger echo. A maternity ward show a series of babies in incubators, all arranged around a central long white area between them. Life, even at its very start at birth, Shinoda is suggesting, is just like the game of chance played by the adults in the movie. It is very funny – and visually striking.

    There are other geometric images throughout the film that are less Lang-like. The first shots shows the inverted V roof of a train station. Later, the hero will wait in front of a building that has a whole series of V-shaped roofs and door tops. (Is this building some sort of temple?) The V’s all have wide angles near 180 degrees. Another echo: The gambling hall is filled with diagonals, also nearly on the horizontal, like the V’s.

    Many of the interiors are filled with small circles. Shinoda produces these not just with Lang-like clock dials, but with lamps, the heroine’s hat, and many other objects. They are a recurrent motif in the visual style. The final murder combines the staircase with the spherical globes of a hanging lamp fixture, to make a unique set of compositions.

    Another echo is aural. One of the women lives in a clock shop, and we hear the ticking of countless clocks. Later, at a gambling hall, we here the players all shuffling their individual collections of tiles. This makes an odd sort of aural pun on the earlier sound. Shinoda displays a Bresson-like interest in sound design in these scenes.

    The final murder is shot silent, and shown against an aural background of an excerpt from an opera. This is Henry Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas” (1689?). Purcell was English; his opera is in English; and it is sung in English here. We hear the great climactic lament, “When I am laid in Earth”, which makes a powerfully mournful and dream-like feel for the killing. This is more a hallucinatory, somnambulistic nightmare than some sort of thrill-kill. When the killing is over, Shinoda has this vocal solo segue with precision into the choral epilogue in the opera, “With drooping wings”. This recalls Hitchcock’s similar precision with ending the vocal part of the song Drummer Man at the exact moment the singer disappears from the great overhead traveling shot in Young and Innocent.

  • Not to put too fine a point on it, dm494 and Noel Vera, but I think you’re slightly misrepresenting the effects of methaqualone, a.k.a. the quaalude. If my recollection of the 1980s is correct, the sedative effect of the quaalude was very nearly matched by its ability to make one very…nice. One might credibly describe it as a precursor to ecstasy (real ecstasy, not all that speeded-up bathtub lab stuff), and in fact a nominally preferable alternative, as it didn’t also make you want to hug every human being you came into contact with.

    Which is to say that if you gave the Frankenstein monster a quaalude (he’d probably need a few, given his size and all), he’d probably act kind of like he does after Dr. Pretorius teaches him how to properly smoke a cigar, only even more chill. No, what Finney does in “Devil” is act like the Frankenstein monster after a sharp but only partially effective blow to the head that, among other things, irritates him more. Or maybe the monster on ether…

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    For some reason I wasn’t aware of this Ritt thread until tonight! Was still lingering in Jerry Lewis territory. It’s really tough trying to read a hundred posts, some very long, my head is spinning. I’m not going to add much but I’d like to say I’m quite surprised that no one (unless I skipped it) mentioned one of Ritt’s very best films, THE MOLLY MAGUIRES. Also, I completely disagree with Blake about HOMBRE, which I thought was Ritt’s first really good film. Saw it again recently and it holds.

    Tavernier wrote a really good entry on Ritt in our book (50 ANS), a very positive evaluation of a director neither of us previously cared much for.

  • jbryant

    j-p: You did miss a couple of Molly Maguires mentions. The 13th post in the thread, by David Boxwell, and a comment by Michael Dempsey on 11.26.08 @ 9:13 pm.

  • dm494

    Glenn, I gotta love that definite article before “quaalude”–makes it sound like Shaggy’s favorite Scoobie snack. Maybe Finney in BEFORE is Frankenstein’s monster on a lot of phenobarbitol.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Thanks, jb, I did miss David Boxwell’s reminiscence of watching the shooting of MOLLY MAGUIRES when he was 14, but I wish his very brief comment of the film was not so lukewarm.Michael did mention the title in a list of others but said nothing about the film itself. A lot has been written in this thread about much less interesting Ritt movies.

  • For the record, I enjoyed Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead. Was it ugly? Repulsive? Unsubtle? Yep, but I felt the effect was intentional–Lumet’s soap opera heist melodrama, a kind of metaphor for the excesses of Wall Street before it crashed. I was in the right mood to see it, anyway.

  • Alex Hicks

    I also enjoyed “Before the Devil Know s You’re Dead” as I have many a film by Lumet, namy a one by Ritt (beyond my “Spy” and “Hud” favorites), many a work by one of Sarris’s other “Strained Seriousness” directors.

    Let the great not be too powerful an enemy of the good, or even the OK!

  • Dave K

    For the record, I agree that “The Molly Maguires” is Ritt’s best film, in no small part because of the revolutionary low-light cinematography of James Wong Howe, who also shot Ritt’s other claim to immortality, “Hud” (as well as the execrable “Hombre” and “The Outrage”). Lumet sure could have used him on “Devil,” one of the worst-looking movies in recent memory.

    One commenter was bemoaning the lack of proper credit for Paul Dehn, one of the screenwriters on “Spy” — as well as “Goldfinger,” “The Deadly Affair,” and most of the “Planet of the Apes” sequels. I’m sure Dehn was a competent professional, but I’m unable to identify a common thread in the films he worked on. The most important screenwriters for Ritt are the team of Irving Ravetch and Harriet Frank, Jr., who wrote eight films for Ritt, including most of his Southern cycle. For the most part, I think Ritt was better off without them; they’re right in tune with his show-and-tell rhetoric, and it speaks volumes that the best of Ritt’s southern films, “Sounder,” was written by the African-American dramatist Lonne Elder III. Their screenplay for “The Spikes Gang” brought down Richard Fleischer, a far more accomplished director than Ritt, right in the middle of his extraordinary creative run of the 70s.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    I really don’t understand why Dave K (and Blake too) find HOMBRE execrable.I’m planning to watch it again to find out why I was so mistaken about it.

  • Blake Lucas

    The cinematography of THE MOLLY MCGUIRES is indeed outstanding, and it might be added at this point that Ritt’s collaboration with Howe over a number of films is evidence that he had some aesthetic interests to go along with the social statements he wanted to make. One doesn’t necessarily have to rate a director that high to acknowledge that he is interested in cinema too. There are lots of other reasons why his achievement might be limited.

    The interesting thing about Ravetch and Frank to me is that while they themselves prized their not so great work for Ritt, they did write one great film with a screenplay that the director involved said was a beautiful adaptation–HOME FROM THE HILL (1960, Minnelli). But when UCLA did a mini-
    retro of Ravetch/Frank and let them choose the films to be shown, they left this one out. I guess they didn’t like the realized film as well as he liked their script. Maybe they wished that Martin Ritt had made it.

  • jbryant

    I haven’t seen Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, but I wonder if its disappointing look is due to an infelicitous blowup from HD to 35mm. Lumet shot his A&E series 100 Centre Street in HD and loved how it enabled him to shoot quickly and keep his actors fresh. He later shot Find Me Guilty in the same format (despite what it says on imdb). That one looked fine to me on DVD, as most shot-on-HD films do. But there are challenges in taking the format to 35mm that may have been beyond Lumet’s control.

  • jbryant

    Addendum: Of course, if you guys say BTDKYD on DVD and still thought it looked like crap — well, never mind the above. :)

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Interestingly, both Ritt and Howe wanted to film THE MOLLY MAGUIRES in black and white. The murky color cinematography in the mine sequences (Howe said : “I didn’t use a single arc in the whole picture,” only tiny quartz lights) is stunning on the big screen but was ruined on video (plus the VHS was pan&scan). Is the film available on DVD in proper aspect ratio? In his Higham interview Howe said he was “very proud” of his work on the film.

  • Brad Stevens

    “Interestingly, both Ritt and Howe wanted to film THE MOLLY MAGUIRES in black and white. The murky color cinematography in the mine sequences (Howe said : “I didn’t use a single arc in the whole picture,” only tiny quartz lights) is stunning on the big screen but was ruined on video (plus the VHS was pan&scan). Is the film available on DVD in proper aspect ratio?”

    Yes, at least in the UK.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    The Molly Maguires is available on DVD in the US, I just found out, so it’s probably in CinemaScope and hopefully a good color transfer. I just added it to my Netflix queue.

  • I’ve seen a dozen Lumet films – without liking most of them.

    MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS makes a botch of Agatha Christie’s clever novel. Christie’s Utopian ideas, about the United States forming a liberal melting pot that can obliterate class or national distinctions, have vanished in Lumet’s mess. Despite the way that film reviewers canonized this film, today there is little interest in Lumet’s work among mystery fans. Instead, people prefer the British TV series POIROT (a favorite series of Andrew Sarris).

    Similarly, TWELVE ANGRY MEN never builds up a coherent account of the murder, supported by evidence. It is one of the least well-plotted of all crime films. Perhaps this is a deliberate avant-gardeism, a refusal of story closure. In any case, if I were a juror, I’d be tempted to vote to convict!

    Visually, one of the chief subjects of TWELVE ANGRY MEN are the clothes worn by Robert Webber’s ad man, E.G. Marshall’s broker and Fonda’s architect. These glossy clothes express both status and sexuality. They form a vision of New York as the place where the best-dressed men in the United States converge. The approach here reaches a climax with PRINCE OF THE CITY, one of whose visual subjects is Treat Williams’ clothes, which convey half street-fighter, half well dressed big shot.

    PRINCE OF THE CITY is the Lumet film I’ve enjoyed the most. As Kent Jones points out, it is remarkably detailed at building up an image of New York City life. POWER does something similar, on a smaller scale, with the world of political consultants. These might not be great films, but they are at least entertaining on a story-telling level. It is unclear that they are “realistic” or “accurate”: I’m not qualified to say. But they are not the by-the-numbers junk of much Lumet.

    I still can’t figure out what NETWORK is trying to say. There are many intelligent comments that can be made about television networks. Sticking your head out of a window and bellowing rage is not one of them. This film seems to have no coherent ideas whatsoever!

    Finally, I need to register acute discomfort with the dubious politics of two Lumet films. RUNNING ON EMPTY seems to glamorize terrorists; DEATHTRAP is anti-gay. Yecch!

  • Wow, poor Sidney Lumet has really come in for an Altman-size ass-kickin’, and it’s not even his thread!

    I have to take issue with some criticisms above which strike me as overused generalizations. The “bad method acting” in Lumet’s films: needless to say, there are many, many lead performances in Lumet’s work, good and bad, which are not method (especially given how much Lumet has worked in Britain and with British actors). Is there any major director other than Kazan who can genuinely said to be associated with the method from start to finish?

    Second, what does it mean to call Lumet’s work “ugly,” a word used by a number of commenters above? Does this refer to the drab photography and design in a number of his films? Often I suspect this is intentional: most of his New York films, from TWELVE ANGRY MEN on, are interested in the seamy aspects of the city, and certainly the high crime/fiscal crisis era trilogy of SERPICO, NETWORK, and DOG DAY AFTERNOON are supposed to be “ugly.” BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD, which does indeed appear very cleanly lit and precisely composed on DVD, was one of my favorite movies of last year, mainly because of a visual idea that Lumet carries off: the caper movie relocated to an congruously (and funnily) bland world of minimalls and rental sedans.

    Or does “ugly” suggest that Lumet’s overall mise-en-scene is crude, that he doesn’t know how to compose a shot or where to put the camera? This may be accurate to an extent, but there are far worse directors at this, and many who may be more elegant in their compositions but still less effective storytellers (I’d put Fleischer in this category). I wish MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS had been done by someone with a lighter touch, and that a more lyrical director had tackled LOVIN’ MOLLY, with its rural Texas setting. But Lumet captures all the complex emotional beats of the latter film much more clearly than, say, Terrence Malick would have.

    Lumet is such a diverse filmmaker — a New Wave/NYC equivalent of the versatile classic Hollywood studio director, perhaps — that I find suspect any blanket criticisms that are hurled his way. When I look over his filmography, I see some overrated films (SERPICO, DOG DAY AFTERNOON) and a number of underrated ones: THAT KIND OF WOMAN, THE HILL, BYE BYE BRAVERMAN, LOVIN’ MOLLY. NETWORK, one of the few I’ve seen more than once, struck me as glib the first time, but much richer on the second viewing. I still think Peter Finch (not a method actor) is one-dimensional (the catchprase won that Oscar, not the performance) but Holden (also not a method actor) is very moving, and Chayefsky’s ideas and dialogue are rich and prescient.

    Also, I realized that I coined the word “austerity” in an earlier post and everyone was gracious enough not to point it out. However, it sounds good, and I’m hoping it will catch on.

  • jean-pierre coursodon

    Stephen, you didn’t coin the word “austerity” — it’s in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, for one: 1. The quality of being austere. 2. Severe and rigid economy. 3. An austere habit or practice. Just what we need in these times of hardness.

  • Ah, good … I was thinking “austereness” was the only correct noun form.

    Now, back to Sidney Lumet … or was it Martin Ritt?

  • i couldn’t call the conclusion of SPY pat, though the sophoclean-minded might find it predictable. it also feels at some realpolitical remove from the rest of ritt’s films; the social relaism of his other work is curdled here, turned sour and pessimistic, undoubtedly courtesy of the le carre original. at a time when directors like richard fleischer et al. are singled out for their auteurist bonafides, i’d say ritt’s entire oeuvre cries out for reappraisal.

    unlike lumet’s — david b’s assessment on linus roache in the stately, overrated GUILTY (“…yet another British actor compelled by Lumet to do an awkward tri-state accent, ingest all the scenery, and fall flat on his face”) is a little too hard on him, though it does seem as though his performance was something of a try-out for his current role on “L&O”. but i fully agree with his assessment as applied to sir ian holm’s performance as a — i’m sorry, i’m off to lmao….thanks, i’m back — retired new york city cop in NIGHT FALLS ON MANHATTAN. i’ve come to appreciate his work over time but, bless his heart, sir ian can’t even CHEW GUM like a new yorker. david thomson claims holm’s work in this film is miraculously convincing, which goes to show how much we should trust the opinion of a british ex-pat who lives on the west coast on the subject of NYC authenticity…

  • Kent Jones

    Stephen – I think the ugliness issue has less to do with Lumet’s desire to capture the less attractive side of New York (his oft-remarked “grittiness”) than with his camera eye. In my opinion, many aspects of his films (strategies big and small, production design, acting choices, set-ups) look like they’ve been decided on and executed a little too quickly. When the cameraman is as good as Kaufman or Bartkowiak (or, as in the case of STAGE STRUCK, Franz Planer), the films maintain a level of visual decorum. But in many of his other films, there’s a problem. In BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU’RE DEAD, there’s a scene where Hoffman tips over a bowl or something in that kind of stiff-backed way Welles found when he destroyed Susan’s room in CITIZEN KANE. But the framing of Hoffman seems off to me and wrong for the action, and the energy just withers away. This kind of thing happens a lot in his movies.

    Another director associated with the Method would be Jack Garfein, former husband of Carroll Baker and director of THE STRANGE ONE and SOMETHING WILD. Regarding Kazan, if you read his autobiography, you’ll find that he was against dogma in his approach to acting and didn’t really work from the Method – he just took what he thought was useful. For instance, he talks a lot about how much he learned from old pros like Osgood Perkins (Anthony’s father) and Cagney. Strasberg was the one who really stuck to the Method (Kazan’s account of Strasberg’s production of THE THREE SISTERS is devastating).

    Lumet or Malick…strange choice.

  • dm494

    Well, I love Ian Holm’s performance in NIGHT FALLS ON MANHATTAN. It’s true that his accent is quite off, but the gum-chewing seems deliberately stylized, as if it were an attempt to get at something Cagneyesque. It works for me, though I can see why it would bother people.

    Stephen, when I talk about the ugliness of Lumet’s films, I mean their bad lighting and clunky mise en scene, not their subject matter. I agree with what Kent says about Lumet’s set-ups always seeming slightly off, and I consistently get a sense that Lumet is in too much of a hurry to get things right. The sequence in Q&A where Nolte rigs Armand Assante’s boat to explode feels like it was out together by someone who wanted to finish by 5 PM, no matter what.

  • dm494

    That should be “feels like it was put together” not “out together”.

  • I recently saw PRINCE OF THE CITY (for the umpteenth time) in close proximity to re-seeing Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED, and I must say that Scorsese didn’t come out of the comparison well, specifically on the level of mise en scene: where Scorsese loves his ‘atomised’ shots, singles that maximise editing possibilities, Lumet has real mise en scene ideas: an earlier scene, where one guy enters a room and begins interacting with another guy who is turned AWAY from him in a chair, is a brilliant example of the kinds of scenographic tension Lumet is great at when he’s on-game and trying (which is certainly not always). When I saw NIGHT FALLS ON MANHATTAN and RUNNING ON EMPTY (not much mentioned here so far, although a critical favourite for some in its day) I formed a hunch that Lumet does indeed have a signature style, they way he pares down scenes to brief ‘gestures’ and then strings them together in a fairly rapid succession of scenes, often pointedly without typical Hollywood music scoring/underlining. I am less convinced by Brad’s thematic template for Lumet, although it makes perfect sense: but how else does anyone dramatise stories of cop/institution corruption, other than through the well=worn plot devices of the ‘innocent going in who finds out what is rotten’ (a John Grisham speciality too!) or the ‘already corrupted who seeks somehow to come clean/go straight’ (that one fits BAD LIEUTENANT among several thousand movies and stories!).

  • Tony Williams

    Scorsese has had it. Remaking the much better INFERNAL AFFAIRS was his creative death warrant naking him little better than Tarantino!

  • Heresy: not a big fan of Infernal Affairs. Oh, I liked the plot, but can you imagine it directed by Johnnie To?

    That said, The Departed isn’t one of Scorsese’s best. Actually, there’re those that make the case for Casino–need to see that again.