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The Detective

Gordon Douglas

The Detective
I'm finding it hard to form complete sentences after this mind-blowing 1968 travesty, which is somehow like every cop movie ever made and nothing that comes from this planet. No sooner do we arrive at the scene of a murder/castration then we're whisked off to the fantasy world of macho-liberal screenwriter Abby Mann, in which detective Frank Sinatra unloads the author's every gripe about society, women and anything else that gets in his way. The corpse is of course the gay son of a prominent businessman, and his death propels our hero to uncover a massive government/police conspiracy gripping the city. Which would be fine if Sinatra didn't act completely psychotic throughout: he pulls off the neat trick of being a hard-bitten cynic while also being totally innocent to what's going down in his precinct, elicits a false confession from a suspect only to disparage the same methods by his colleagues, and decries the treatment of the gays he's just illegally rounded up for questioning. No wonder the guy hates psychiatrists — he's got to be worried they'll be hip to him. Mann absurdly smashes Jack Webb manliness into smug condescension to gay rights and whacked-out romantic adventures with the promiscuous Lee Remick, sealing the deal with the incomparable thesis-statement dialogue that made him the house writer for Stanley Kramer. Its old-Hollywood-meets-the-new-permissiveness approach tries to fit "youth rebellion" into Bogart's mackintosh, but the two concepts are so antithetical that the resulting mixture is nigh-hallucinogenic. You'll laugh, you'll scream, you'll stare in slack-jawed awe; it's a very special movie, in a camp class by itself. With Robert Duvall as a homophobic policeman and Jaqueline Bisset as the auxiliary love interest when Remick fails to ignite. (Fox)



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