Prince of the City

Treat Williams in Prince of the City (dir. Sidney Lumet, 1981).

Sidney Lumet, I notice, has a thing for rows of nearly identical fenced-in back yards. This is one of those early-eighties dramas that still feels like a seventies film, in a good way: lots of brightly lit red, orange, and brown vinyl chairs and leisure jackets. I can't help but think that Scorcese drew some inspiration for Goodfellas from its unhurried, time-spanning narrative and scenes of suburban family life. You're always sort of aware that Treat Williams is aware that you're aware that he's acting, but it kind of fits the paranoid undercover scenario he's in. The tone and cadence of his voice as he calls a fellow cop to let him know that he's sold him and the rest of the force down the river sticks in your head: it's quietly, hysterically resigned, if that's imaginable.

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