Monday, November 11, 2013

The Offence (1972)

Director: Sidney Lumet

Writer: John Hopkins

Composer: Harrison Birtwistle

Starring: Sean Connery, Trevor Howard, Vivien Merchant, Ian Bannen, Peter Bowles, Derek Newark, Ronald Radd, John Hallam, Richard Moore, Anthony Sagar, Maxine Gordon, Hilda Fenemore, Rhoda Lewis, Cynthia Lund, Howard Goorney

More info: IMDb

Tagline: After 20 years what Detective-Sergeant Johnson has seen and done is destroying him.

Plot: Detective Sergeant Johnson has been with the British Police Force for 20 years. In that time, the countless murders, rapes and other serious crimes he has had to investigate has left a terrible mark on him. His anger and aggression that had been suppressed for years finally surfaces when interviewing a suspect, Baxter, whom Johnson is convinced is the man that has been carrying out a series of brutal attacks on young girls. Throughout the interview Johnson brutally beats Baxter and during this ordeal he inadvertently reveals that the state of his own mind is probably no better than that of the offenders who committed the crimes that disgusted Johnson originally.

My rating: 7/10

Will I watch it again? Maybe.

I've seen 15 of the 43 theatrical films directed by Sidney Lumet and I've enjoyed all of them.  I don't seek out Lumet pictures but rather I stumble upon them. He's an actor's director so you won't find much action, gunfights or explosions in his pictures.  THE OFFENCE is a different kind of detective story.  Like a lot of Lumet's films it's the psychological angle that allows its central character, Detective Sergeant Johnson (Connery), to unravel in front of us, allowing us to better understand how the stresses of such a difficult and unusual job can effect those who do it.  This is a more intelligent crime drama than what was the norm 40 years ago and it's a wonderful showcase between two fine actors, Connery and Ian Bannen (as Johnson's target of abuse, Kenneth Baxter).  For probably half the picture it's just these two men in an interrogation room and there's some strong sparring going on.  You may find it slower than you'd expect but you'll likely come out the other end marveled at Connery and Bannen and the patience needed to tell this story, one that Connery insisted on making as part of the negotiations for his returning to play Bond in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971).

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