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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Madigan (1968)

A New York City police detective (Richard Widmark) and his partner (Harry Guardino) bungle an arrest when the suspect (Steve Ihnat) turns the table on them and takes their guns. Since he's armed and dangerous, they are given 72 hours to get their man before discipline is imposed on them. Based on the novel THE COMMISSIONER by Richard Dougherty, the director Don Siegel does a good job of creating a realistically gritty atmosphere and keeping an urgent pulse to the hunt for the killer. But (and it's a very big but), the script is saddled with trite domestic scenes between Widmark and his wife (Inger Stevens, doing the best she can) and a dull subplot involving the police commissioner (Henry Fonda) and his married mistress (Susan Clark). Adding to the problem is that times have changed. What in 1968 came across as tough cops doing their duty comes across today as abuse of power and harassment. Indeed, corruption in the police department is treated with kid gloves as when a cop (James Whitmore) who should be fired is given a pass because he has friends in high places and we're supposed to be okay with that. With Sheree North, Michael Dunn, Don Stroud, Warren Stevens, Virginia Gregg and Raymond St. Jacques. 

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