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Prince Of The City (Blu-ray Review)

Warner Archive Collection turns to the legendary Sidney Lumet this month for one of its titles. Prince of the City was a police corruption drama based on a book of the same name. It received an Academy Award nomination for its screenplay and launched the career of one Treat Williams. This new Blu-ray edition comes with the previously available The Real Story mini documentary about the subject matter and book with which the movie itself was based on. You can order the film, which is releasing on August 24th, using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review.

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Film

New York police officer Daniel Ciello (Treat Williams) is not a perfect cop. When Rick Cappalino (Norman Parker) from the U.S. Justice Department approaches him with a personal request to investigate police corruption, Ciello agrees — provided he is not forced to turn in his fellow crooked cops. But as he delves deeper into the underbelly of drug crime, he realizes that it may be impossible to keep his promises. He will have to bring his friends down, or he’ll end up going down himself.

Prince of the City comes off as a pretty hard nosed, trying to be true to life account of an internal affairs investigation of police corruption. Its a bit long, and every trip and conversation doesn’t yield into the most “heightened theatrics” of results for the viewer watching. This almost plays in an aesthetic and clockwork fashion akin to something like HBO’s The Wire. Its deliberate, slower and very contemplative in its storytelling.

Treat Williams is pretty damn terrific here. It’s not that I’m some anti-Treat guy, but this movie fully displays his potential and showcases why he’s had such a solid, lengthy career. Easily one of his best and most hungry performances. He has this role down amazingly. In most police narcs on his department flicks the guy is all in, the suspense is in “is he gonna get caught”. This one adds genuine contemplation and the character second guessing himself. That other suspense is there too, but you get to see this whole process eating away at him and at the end of the day you have no idea whether he’s going to go through with it or not. And it takes a champion to pull off that type of performance and Treat is more than up for that challenge.

While being an Academy Award nominee and pretty well reviewed film, with a late in the Blu-ray lifeline release like this, I can imagine Prince of the City is both forgotten or just never made its way across generations. In that regard it can be a wonderful discovery for people seeking some unseen dramas from an acclaimed director. Though the film is quite long and really does feel it along the way, its still loaded with quality dramatic scenes as well as suspenseful ones. Warner Archive’s release is the perfect way for someone to dive in and check the film out for the first time.

Video

Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Prince of the City’s Blu-ray debut doesn’t have mention on the restoration and transfer of the film, but I’m assuming its no more than a 2K transfer. And the image looks quite good, sharp and well defined with a slightly overall colder look to it. The image handles a lot of shadowy and smoky areas with some impressive ease.

Depth:  Depth has a solid look to it overall and there’s some good pushback to it thanks to be a film source. Motion is smooth and cinematic with no issues regarding rapid motion and blurring.

Black Levels: Blacks are quite deep and provide a good contrast for some stand out coloring and definition of the overall details. No information is hidden in any very darkened areas of the screen and no crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: This film has a very natural, gritty look to it when it comes to its color scheme. A lot of basic browns, greens grays and the like, but they are full and the blues in the police uniforms and the like have a nice, strong look to them.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are colder and consistent from start to finish. It has a kind of washed look to it a bit. Facial features and textures are easily discernible in medium and close up shots.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

Audio

Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Prince of the City comes with its original mono track. There’s a nice cleaned up clarity to it all to go with a solid overall balance of the music, effects and vocals. Its a hair light on the low end, but effective enough to be pretty engaging mono track, with some good ambiances that float out from your front channels well.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are the bread and butter of this mix and they definitely stand out with a good, crisp and plenty full and audible presentation.

Extras

“The Real Story” (SD, 28:37) – This is a vintage featurette, but a pretty outstanding look at the real life stuff that went into fueling the script for this film. It features a lot of key players in the film for interviews for this little documentary.

Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1:44)

Summary

Prince of the City is a rather enjoyable and very well done corrupt cop internal investigations drama that will be appealing to fans of such dramas like The Wire. Warner Archive Collection debuts it on Blu-ray with a terrific restoration in both video and audio. When it comes to the bonus material, there’s a carry over featurette providing a solid insight to everything that makes for a pretty complete little package for those picking it up.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link

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Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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