The New Centurions Film Details
Overview: An idealistic rookie cop joins the L.A.P.D. to make ends meet while finishing law school, and is indoctrinated by a seasoned veteran. As time goes on, he loses his ambitions and family as police work becomes his entire life.
Tagline: The nationwide bestseller about cops – by a cop!
Review: In 1971 while working as a police officer Joseph Wambaugh had his first novel published, THE NEW CENTURIONS, to popular and critical praise. His depiction of the average cop on the beat presented a different view than most readers had experienced in the past. Coming from someone living the life it added the authenticity to his books as well. This first novel was so popular it didn’t take long for Hollywood to grab up the rights and from that this movie was released a year later. The film follows three police academy grads in 1960 beginning with their first assignment and following them for several years, focusing mainly on Roy Fehler (Stacy Keach). Roy is partnered with long timer Andy Kilvinski (George C. Scott), a cop who knows the streets better than most and handles them in his own fashion. He provides insight to Roy via “Kilvinski’s laws”, his interpretations of the law that makes things run smooth and rarely upsets the balance of what happens on the street. An example of this is displayed the first night the pair are assigned the paddy wagon to pick up street walkers. Rather than arrest them, book them and then find them on the street again with nothing affected but the time it took to do paperwork, Kilvinski instead buys them a bottle of whiskey, puts them in the wagon and drives them around most of the night. The end result keeps them off the street and requires less bureaucratic bologna. As the film moves forward we witness a chance in Roy as he goes from an officer who took the job in order to pay for college and become a lawyer to an officer who loves the work he does. This come at a cost since it disrupts his marriage to Dorothy (Jane Alexander) who feels he’s sold out the plans they had. While patrolling one night Kilvinski goes in to observe a potential robbery taking place leaving Roy to watch and wait for backup. Seeing a couple in a car, he approaches to tell them to move on only to be shot point blank with a shotgun. The couple were part of the robbery. Unaffected by the shooting Roy heals and gets back on the job. As the year mark for the rookies hits he’s back on the beat as Kilvinski hits his 25 year mark and mandatory retirement. The two part ways with the intent to get together again but time passes and the odds of that happening decrease until a shocking event happens in Kilvinski’s life. Roy is promoted to the vice squad and about the same time Dorothy chooses to leave him taking their daughter Becky with her. Affected by everything taking place around him Roy turns to alcohol both on and off the job. Where it will lead is anyone’s guess until the end of the film. There are several things that make this movie work better than most of the genre. The first is the depiction of police as presented by Wambaugh. These are human being with faults just like the rest of us. They are still heroes, men willing to put their lives on the line to protect and serve society. But doing so as a career takes its toll on each of them in different ways. The movie also has that gritty streetwise look to it found in numerous films from the seventies. It’s not a glossed over movie set that we get to see here but the mean streets of LA that are on view. The station house isn’t the pristine complex so many TV series now use but the beat down grimly painted station that actually exist. The acting here offers solid performances all around. Keach shines as Roy, a man whose life choices change and who is affected by those changes. Scott remains a force to be reckoned with as the most influential character on screen. What happens to him here is sure to stun those not prepared. Rounding out the two other rookies are Scott Wilson as Gus, the wide eyed innocent who learns how difficult things will be early on and Erik Estrada as Serge, completely wasted here in what amounts to a bit part. This genre of film that was so popular in the seventies is a joy to go back and watch now. With movies like THE FRENCH CONNECTION and more coming out on blu-ray they have the chance to be discovered all over again. This one is a great representation of those films. If you’re a fan of Wambaugh then this edition of the film will be a welcome one as Twilight Time is offering the film in the cleanest picture ever. They’re also offering more extras than usual here including an isolated music track, an audio commentary track with Wilson and film historian Nick Redman, an audio commentary track with film historians Lee Pfeiffer and Paul Scrabo and the original theatrical trailer. And, as with all Twilight Time releases, this version is limited to just 3,000 copies so if you’re interested buy yours today.
Language: English, Spanish
Duration: 103 min
Genre: Action, Crime, Drama, Thriller
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