Cinematic Taste Buds

Column Gazing

Made to look tiny

Scene from Prince of the City
Scene from Prince of the City
Photo: Orion Pictures / Warner Bros.

Along with watching Kids last week, I also watched Sidney Lumet's near-three-hour epic Prince of the City starring Treat Williams as a New York undercover cop who agrees to work with a special commission investigating police corruption just as long as his partners are not implicated. The film is based on the book and true story of NYPD Narcotics Detective Robert Leuci and while it has a meticulous way of unfolding over the course of its 167 minute running time, it comes to a very satisfying conclusion.

However, instead of detailing the film (as I did with Kids yesterday), I was more taken by some of the long, wide-angled shots Lumet and his DP Andrzej Bartkowiak (The Verdict, The Devil's Advocate) used for the film, the most impressive being the shot above as Williams ascends the courthouse steps, dwarfed by the massive columns running along the right hand side of the image.

There are several such shots in the film, but this was the most impressive. Based on the perspective of the image I love how it looks like just the foot of the column in the foreground is larger than the characters even though you can see that's not the case the further down the line you go.

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  • Criterion10

    I'm a huge fan of many of Lumet's films, in particular Dog Day Afternoon and The Verdict. I haven't seen this one yet, though it does sound interesting. I'll be sure to add it to my radar.

  • RagingTaxiDriver

    Haven't disliked any of Lumet's works that I've seen (I'm particularly fond of 12 Angry Men), so I'll definitely being checking this one out soon.

  • Josh P.

    I watched Prince of the City a couple months ago, and was quite taken with it. I probably still prefer Serpico as Lumet's better cop movie, but this one is still pretty good. But you're right, the images that he creates are simple but incredibly effective. That was always something I loved about Lumet's direction. He never felt flashy in his style, but he used that simplicity to tell the story as effectively as he could and drew the audience in with powerful images. It still makes me a little sad that we won't be able to get anymore Lumet films because he was doing great work all the way up to the end.