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Report to the Commissioner
Directed by Milton Katselas in 1975 and in the wake of the mighty William Friedkin helmed The French Connection, Report To The Commissioner follows a cop named Bo Lockley (Michael Moriarty), a New York City detective who, while working a case, winds up shooting and killing a woman named Chicklet (Susan Blakely, who has a brief but welcome nude scene!). If shooting and killing someone wasn't problematic enough, it turns out she was actually an undercover narcotics officer named Patty Butler, something which Bo was completely unaware of.
The movie then proceeds to show us, via a series of flashbacks, the different sides of the story here, and the plot thickens as we find out what Patty was really up to and what her relationship to a drug dealer named Stick (Tony King) was all about. The involvement of Bo's partner (played by Yaphet Kotto) adds a further layer as inevitably we find out the truth.
Part action movie, part police procedural, Report To The Commissioner features some fine performances and loads of gritty seventies New York atmosphere. Highlighted by two fantastic chase sequences, the first of which involves a paraplegic man trailing Chickelt and her man through the dark streets of Manhattan and the second of which involves Bo chasing Stick from rooftop to rooftop in the middle of old Times Square, the movie is ripe with tension and ambience and makes great use of some excellent locations. If nothing else, there's a whole lot of dirty, gritty atmosphere here, the kind you could only get in the middle of seventies era New York City.
As far as the performances are concerned, Moriarty is pretty solid in the lead role here. It's interesting to watch his character change as he falls deeper and deeper into trouble and his on screen time shared with Yaphet Kotto tends to work far better than most would probably expect it to. Kotto is great as his partner and is surprisingly memorable here, while Blakely, in addition to providing some eye candy, manages to create an interesting if not entirely sympathetic character. Tony King is sufficiently tough and sleazy as the dope dealer and rounds out the cast well, bringing some eccentricities and quirks to his character that make him fun to watch.
Ultimately, if Katselas's film isn't on the same level as some of the established classics of the rough and tumble seventies cop film phase, it's close enough to warrant a second look thanks to a strong (if sometimes predictable) story, some good performances from an interesting cast and some great location and atmosphere.The Blu-ray:
Kino's AVC encoded 1080p high definition 1.85.1 widescreen transfer of Report To The Commissioner offers a very nice upgrade over the previous MOD/DVD-R release that came out as part of the MGM Limited Edition Collection a couple of years ago. The transfer has very nice color reproduction and is frequently quite impressive with its detail. At the same time, the image retains an appropriately gritty, grainy feel to it that works really well in the context of the story. Skin tones look lifelike and natural and black levels are fine. Whatever print damage manages to creep onto the screen is minimal and never distracting, there's nothing to complain about here. No evidence of noise reduction, edge enhancement or compression artifacts. This is nice and film like, fans of the film should be quite pleased.Sound:
The English soundtrack, presented in DTS-HD Mono format, is clean and clear and free of any hiss or distortion. The musical bits sound very good here and pack some welcome punch, while dialogue stays well balanced and easy to follow. There's good dept here and the sound effects have good weight behind them. Again, this is an improvement over the previous release.Extras:
There are no extras outside of a fun theatrical trailer, just a static menu with chapter stops.Final Thoughts:
A film that really should be more popular and better known than it is, Report To The Commissioner gets a really nice looking and sounding, if almost barebones, Blu-ray release from the Kino Studio Classics. Recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.