Prince of the City (1981)


Started this site to share loads of my favourite films I’ve watched over the years but it’s already taken me off down a path full of new film discoveries. Looking up one film leads me down a rabbit warren filled with cute bunnies, don’t worry I didn’t eat them. Had my eye on Serpico to be a new post but looking down the director, the incredible Sidney Lumet, list of works I took note of Prince Of The City. Starring the wonderful named Treat Williams. Now Treat I know just too well as he stars in a big wolfy favourite, the massively cheesy 90’s B-Movie Deep Rising, damn that movie is fun.

Band of brothers!

Now in Prince Of The City, Treat Williams stars as Detective Daniel Ciello aka Babyface giving the performance of a life time, hitting so many emotional walls throughout. It’s an epic film with a run time of 2hrs 47mins and similar in tone to Serpico but takes a big change of direction. Whereas Al Pacino’s Serpico is the hero, honest New York cop, our Babyface Ciello is a corrupt cop trying to find redemption. He is cocky, egotistical and addicted to the buzz of danger. However, he soon discovers that he’s in way over his head and starts to realise what destructive impact it all has on his partners, friends and family.

Tagline –  A cop is turning. Nobody’s safe.

It’s quite an electrifying ride of emotions and even with the long run time it doesn’t feel too long at all. Made in 1981 this film is set in 1972 and you get all the big leather jackets, cool suit jackets and street talk. I can’t believe I had never heard of it before as I’m a big fan of the cop drama genre.


You get mafia gangsters, snitches, hitmen, junkies, hookers, corrupt lawyers and cops, internal affairs, drug trafficking, wiretapping and bodyguards. This movie hits it all.

One of the things I really loved was that each act had a title scene and was followed by identification cards or mug shots of the cast of players. Seeing the cast with their names was a nice touch of detail.


Treat Williams was exceptional but the whole cast shone through well especially Jerry Orbach as one of his partners Detective Gus Levy. There’s a massive cast and it can be hard to keep up at times but keep an eye out for a few classics like Lance Henriksen (Bishop from Aliens) and James Tolkan (Mr. Strickland from Back To The Future). Plus my favourite character who I would’ve loved to have seen more of, the badass Rocky Gazzo played by Tony Munafo.

This is a film about morals and like most of Sidney Lumet films he doesn’t hit the sentimental button but he does flick the “your gonna be thinking about this all the time” switch, as he always does. Does it pay to be honest?  Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

“You don’t like my spaghetti meat balls?”

Here is the trailer.

Further Reading Links

Prince Of The City WIKI

Roger Ebert Review

Indie Wire Deep Focus Essay By Steve Santos

Prince Of The City 1981 IMDB


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