I give this film an 8.4. This is the first full-feature film I’ve seen with Buster Keaton, and it is amazing how his comedic style and timing could still generate laughter after all these years. The character of Johnnie Gray, portrayed by Keaton, was extremely down-to-earth and likable and although the film did not tackle major social issues, he seemed to have a strong moral compass. The love interest of Annabelle, played by Marion Mack, was constantly essential to the plot and I’m glad they actually incorporated her into the film instead of just having her as an idea in the back of the general’s mind. In terms of comedy, there was less than I expected and it was subtle at most times. What shocked me was the great amount of tension that the story has because most of it is a chase and it never fully gets tiring, which is extremely impressive. The humor and tension balanced each other out perfectly and there was enough screen-time of both that they did not become overwhelming. The funniest moments were the more realistic ones, such as him throwing the piece of wood at Annabelle and when he looks away in fear after he places her in the potato sack and throws her on the train. Keaton’s famous “stone-face” worked perfectly for this film because it had a reassuring and common quality about it, despite all of the obstacles that needed to be faced. There were sections of this that ran a bit long and it almost got confusing from the wide shots of which train was which, but overall, this is a really great example of silent humor done well. I may watch the entire the thing again because it really is not long at all, but I’m definitely glad I saw it once.
I give this film an 8.3. I had seen this years ago, but forgot almost the entire thing and having utmost respect for both Al Pacino and Sidney Lumet, I decided to re-watch this with hopefully, more mature eyes. The story is very compelling and powerful, but it lacks certain trademarks from the director which I was looking forward to. This takes place over years while most of Lumet’s successful films take over the course of hours or days and there could have been sections of the movie cut out. Al Pacino was very good and realistic as Frank Serpico, but I wanted to like his character a little more because he seemed very bland at times, especially in the beginning. There were two completely useless love interests who should have been taken out in order for Pacino to have more rage-filled scenes because it was during those moments when I realized the pain he was going through. The conflict was very strong and the story was built very well towards the end, but it lacked energy in the beginning and middle which is a shame because the whole film could have had that same momentum. The audio and continuity were not amazing throughout, but the film had a raw, dirty feeling of New York City in 1970s, which I love. The memorable scenes include Serpico trying to hold the door open at the end, the fight between him and Bob in the apartment, and when he beats up the other officers “pal.” Since Dog Day Afternoon is one of my absolute favorite films, I was expecting more from this but overall, its worth it to watch this once.