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Reviews for Madigan ( 1968 )

Fonda leavens the mix with class. (IMDB: 7)

On: 9/17/2019 12:00:00 AM By: g-hbe
MADIGAN (Henry Fonda, Richard Widmark, Harry Guardino 1968) Directed by Don Siegel, who was to give us Dirty Harry a couple of years later. I've always avoided this film in the past, as I suspected it would be like many other cop films of the period and play like an over-long TV drama. In the event I enjoyed it, despite it ...er ...looking like an over-long TV drama. On the good side we have Richard Widmark's excellent performance with the equally good Harry Guardino as his buddy. On the very good side we get Henry Fonda, who turns in a cool, measured piece of acting as the ramrod-straight Commissioner with more than enough on his plate.Overall it's a bit episodic as the main plot concerning a simple manhunt is interrupted by side-stories and domestic goings-on, but still the film remains highly watchable.My main gripe is the over-use of incidental music. The big-band jazz-based music by Don Costa is very good, but it pokes its nose in when there should be silence and intrudes very loudly at times. Many films of this period seemed somewhat overloaded with music, so I suppose it was just of its time.

Mixed bag, but interesting bridge between classic film noir and modern crime films (IMDB: 7)

On: 4/1/2018 12:00:00 AM By: a_chinn
Directed by Don Siegel who had a foot firmly planted in classic Hollywood and who was also a trailblazer in modernizing American action films, "Madigan" serves the perfect bridge between the two. Co-written by Abraham Polonsky, who'd previously been on the Hollywood Blacklist for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee, the film follows two different NYPD police officers. One is Madigan, a tough no-nonsense detective played by Richard Widmark trying to catch a killer, and the other is the straight-arrow police commissioner, Henry Fonda, who's balancing justice, politics, and an extra-marital affair. The film was based on a book titled "The Commissioner" and Fonda's character was the original focus of the story, but the producers instead changed the focus to Widmark's Madigan character, so the film unfortunately ends up a an odd combination of two different stories. Both Fonda and Widmark's stories involve them having to balance their work-life and home-life, but neither of those story elements seemed all that interesting. The most interesting part of the story concerned Widmark and his partner, Harry Guardino, on the trail of criminal Steve Ihnat. Watching Widmark and Guardino push the boundaries of acceptable law enforcement in their investigation makes this film an interesting bridge to director Don Siegel's controversial and highly influential vigilante cop film "Dirty Harry" he'd make a few years later. Siegel also makes great use of NYC locations that give ether film added grit and realism, much like we'd later see in William Friedkin's "The French Connection" and Siegel's use of San Francisco in "Dirty Harry." Siegel also skillfully demonstrates his own directional action sequences chops with a memorable showdown in the film's finale, which features with three characters in tight quarters, all with John Woo-style double-fisted pistols in each hand. Overall, "Madigan" features an old style police detective story (with a nice plot nod to Kurosawa's "Stray Dog") that abandons the stylistic German Expressionist roots of American film noir and instead takes the genre into new more realistic and gritty of territory, even if those stronger elements get somewhat undone by dull and unoriginal subplots involving the marital lives of Madigan and the commissioner.

Period piece - forget the plot; check out the styles and images (IMDB: 5)

On: 3/22/2018 12:00:00 AM By: PrairieKid
The end of an era. Cops in suits with narrow ties and fedoras, worn inside and out, day and night. Lincoln sedans with rear suicide doors. Women in bright colours, hats, and fully made up stay at home wives. The bad guys and near criminals in mauves and plush velour at the edge of the beatnik fringe. Dial telephones, typewriters, carbon paper, no computers, cops using phone booths and carrying dimes, cigarettes and booze everywhere, adultery, a near drunken sexual assault, all 60's stuff at the end of an era.Widmark is too old to have both a hot wife and an ongoing pleutonic relationship with a nightclub singer. He is also a nice guy one minute and physically threatening an old lady the next or kicking down a door without a warrant. He can't carry off the bad cop and rule breaker role.There is a subplot with police corruption and the straight laced commissioner learns too bend a little with advice from his married girlfriend. There is a second subplot with a potential racial police incident with a black suspect.The finale is pre-SWAT teams with the two detectives breaking through a door armed with two handguns each in a shootout reminiscent of a B western.Forget the plot, with its many flaws, and focus on the New York and the sixties look and feel

Bad Cops, Bad Cops (IMDB: 7)

On: 6/16/2016 12:00:00 AM By: mmallon4
Madigan is my kind of cop movie, why? Everything about the movie feels so classic. So many classic cop movie tropes are there; the one officer who is determined to play by the book, police corruption, guys in suits who show off their identification, one liners galore and aided by the aura of cool Richard Widmark brings to the screen. Plus is there a more cop name than Madigan? Many of the men in the film wear suits and fedoras with this being the late 60's and the final days in which it was common for working men to do so; although there is a sense of New Hollywood creeping in with the criminals in the movie appearing in that 1970's archetype. Madigan is also one of the best uses of location, never has the grit and grime of the New York streets been captured so vividly.

The opening credits are a fantastic montage of New York in the early hours of the morning. This should come as no surprise as director Don Siegel had been a montage creator before becoming a director. I could happily have this movie playing in the background just to listen to the music. The score by Don Costa itself is one of the most underrated film scores I've heard; it's so motivating and makes you want to go and kick some ass. Much of my appreciation of Madigan is due to the film's aesthetics. The film's plots are good if not entirely exception but men are those some fine aesthetics.

A Tale of Two Cities (IMDB: 9)

On: 3/27/2015 12:00:00 AM By: vespatian75
I believe this is a great film, one of Don Siegle's best. Some reviewers did not appreciate the two plots. They thought the Henry Fonda story line was soapy. Actually the contrast between the two plots was the central theme of the movie. The first shot is of the old New York Central train (now Metro North) emerging from the underground to the elevated tracks. It sets the tone. You're still on Park Avenue but you're leaving the wealthy Upper East Side and entering East Harlem which in those days was a tough Italian American neighborhood (my old neighborhood) now known as Spanish Harlem. Fonda, once a street cop is now Police Commissioner his world is among the elites of the City. Widmark and Harry Guardino are two hard nosed detectives who were embarrassed by a psycho who took their guns and then killed another officer. Now they have to track him down. The difference between the two worlds and the different types of decisions that have to be made is what the film is about. The cast is excellent Fonda, scrupulously by the book, Widmark who throws the book away to do what's required of him James Whitmore. the more human Chief of Department, Guardino and the luminous Inger Stevens, the brilliantly filmed final gunfight all make for an unforgettable film.

(IMDB: 6/10)

On: 8/10/2012 12:00:00 AM By: Spikeopath
Madigan is directed by Don Siegel and adapted to screenplay by AbrahamPolonsky and Howard Rodman from the novel The Commissioner written byRichard Dougherty. It stars Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, IngerStevens, Susan Clark, Harry Guardino and James Whitmore. Music isscored by Don Costa and cinematography by Russell Metty.

Plot finds Widmark as Detective Daniel Madigan, who along with hispartner Rocco Bonaro (Guardino), loses a suspected murderer who alsomakes off with their guns. Causing embarrassment to Police CommissionerAnthony Russell (Fonda), who is hardly a fan of Madigan's methods, theyare given 72 hours in which to locate the escapee and bring him in. Butas the two men go in search of the crim, Commissioner Russell hasvarious other problems to address, both at work and with matters of theheart. Last thing he needs is a volatile Madigan screwing things up...

Based on a book called The Commissioner, a film originally titled thesame, and the most interesting story thread in the picture is that ofHenry Fonda's Commissioner! Then why is the film called Madigan, who isan interesting character that really is only second fiddle in thisparticular Don Siegel orchestra? It is one of the odd and frustratingthings about the piece, the story is complex enough without beingunsure who to focus on, a shame because Widmark, Clark, Fonda andWhitmore are doing sterling work for their under pressure director(Siegel was constantly fighting with producer Frank P. Rosenberg).

The themes at play are deliciously enticing, infidelity, policecorruption, family strife, friendship, loneliness and identity etc etc,threads are dangled and given thoughtful dialogue passages. But hangon! Wasn't there a murderer on the loose at the beginning of the film?Half way through the piece I had forgotten about Steve Ihnat's crimthat opened up proceedings, surely that can't be right? Film looksterrific at day time, though, where Metty's bold Technicolorphotography really gives the New York locations a sense of 70s wonder(I know it's a 60s movie but it feels very 70s, and in a good way aswell), though Costa's score is far too blunderbuss for narrativethemes.

It's a mixed bag, a film you just know should be better considering thetalent in front of and behind the cameras. Ideas at core are strong andworthy of filmic adaptation, while the last quarter is electrifying andcrowned by a classic foray into film noir territory. But really this isrecommended as just above average entertainment for the cop/crime moviefan. 6/10

Love Richard! (IMDB: 7)

On: 2/2/2012 12:00:00 AM By: mickeyhugehely
A fine, harshly realistic Don Siegel film from the late 60's with Richard Widmark superb as Madigan. Steve Ihnat (from THE CHASE) is also a perfect twisted and aggressive villain with able support from Harry Guardino. The lovely Inger Stevens is touching in one of her last roles before her untimely demise.

A 7 out of 10. Best performance = Steve Ihnat (who died too young). Don Siegel made a lot of good films and this is near the top of the list. One of the pro-cop films before Dirty Harry blasted it open. Once again, Inger Stevens will break your heart near the end of this and she never looked more beautiful in her all too short career. Well worth anyone's time.

Weapon Retention (IMDB: 7)

On: 11/25/2008 12:00:00 AM By: inspectors71
My first experience with the character of Dan Madigan was in the television series that the movie spawned. I enjoyed Richard Widmark--he had a petty, wounded look that made his character(s) appealing . . . and infuriating. In Madigan (the movie), Widmark wasn't a typical 60's anti-hero, just a burnt out cop with a miserable life. The movie was tough, and infuriating. It seemed to have a formula, an agenda for making big moral judgments. Henry Fonda was doing his thing, gliding around the set with a great toupee and a look on his face of lethal dyspepsia, Inger Stevens was scrumptious, Harry Guardino was very honest and blue-collar, Steve Inhat (sp?) was criminally underused, and Widmark was just wonderfully foolish as an empty man who's going to lose his wife and his life if he doesn't walk away from his precious job. My appreciation for director Don Siegel can be seen in my review of The Killers. His pacing is so journeyman, so reassuring, that you never have to be bothered with thinking, "Wow, who directed this?" I can't say that this is a great cop movie because the production values are so cheesy and the big moral-isms are overbearing.

I can say that the movie should have been a training film for cops who sacrifice everything for their jobs. This was the strongest part of the movie, a message of, "Walk away while you can!"

Prime suspense down the New York avenues (IMDB: 9)

On: 2/11/2007 12:00:00 AM By: rik_tromp
I really like this movie coming from the late 1960s. This movie represents every single characteristic from these days. Two excellent portrayed cops played by Richard Widmark and Harry Guardino make this movie a gratifying use of time, because of the adventure they are living through. Henry Fonda who portrays the seaming cold-blooded commissioner, is on non speaking terms, because of his inner struggle at multiple fronts; he had to decide what to do with his buddy Kane and what to do with his sinning bedroom mate. In my opinion these concerns in his life are represented in an excellent way, and along with Madigan's battle this turns the movie into very deep and advanced. In this movie it was intended to make the story about Madigan, but the novel where the movie is based upon is called 'The Commissioner', meaning about Russell. In this movie they succeeded very well in giving them both the proper attention. Steve Ihnat always had a tendency to over-act, but in his role as Benesch this turned out very well and his brief appearances throughout the movie are very memorable. And there is of course the then normal use of cigarettes, the powerful language, the suits with hats and the wonderful music who make this an excellent movie that keeps to enjoy.

Very good cop film that injects 1960s morality into the old Film Noir genre (IMDB: 7)

On: 10/28/2006 12:00:00 AM By: MartinHafer
This is a very good film--full of excellent acting and a pretty interesting story. Richard Widmark and Henry Fonda are both wonderful actors in the movie and their stories run parallel during most of the film--having almost no interaction in the film. Harry Guardino, Inger Stevens, James Whitmore and others provide some superb support and the film is very entertaining. In many ways it's like a 1960s take on Film Noir, though with slightly less "gritty" dialog and a lot of late 60s sensibilities (a bit of nudity and graphic language that at first took me by surprise). Now this isn't to say that the film is needlessly gratuitous. I just had a hard time, at first, hearing some of the swearing coming out of the mouths of some old-time actors. Additionally, and this did NOT improve the film for me, there were some soap opera-like elements thrown in that often didn't work. Having widower Fonda sleeping with a married woman who had kids just seemed sleazy and didn't at all fit with the character they had created. He prided himself on his decency and integrity, but this didn't seem to make much sense. However, the tension between Widmark and his wife, Stevens, did work pretty well, as you could certainly see how being a detective could really be tough on a marriage.

All in all, this was a very good film that seemed a little like DRAGNET, the TV show POLICE STORY and a soap opera all rolled into one. Good stuff that is well worth seeing, though I'd hesitate to let younger kids view this DVD.

(IMDB: 4/10)

On: 10/13/2006 12:00:00 AM By: ccthemovieman-1
An interesting cast that include a couple of my favorites made meenthused about watching the VHS of this in '90s, several decades afterseeing it in the theater when it came out. Boy, what a disappointment.Despite the cast, I found it to be somewhat boring. Only the beginningand the last 10 minutes of the film had any action. You'd expect moreout of a tough crime story.

The rest of the time was spent with soap opera material such as unhappypolice wives, or the now-cliché good cops get harassed by their boss,the key cop is a corrupt one and the lead cop is totally misunderstood.Oh man, have we seen a lot of this crap since this film came out!

No, this turned out to be an overrated film.

My favorite Widmark movie ever! (IMDB: 9)

On: 7/24/2006 12:00:00 AM By: Cristi_Ciopron
Everything about this movie sounded so cool and promising (the '60s;Siegel;Widmark!),but "Madigan" is even better than I expected. My expectations were high,but this movie exceeded them.First,it must be said that this is not a crime film, or anything of the sort,but a movie about a few days of Detective Madigan's life.It is,indeed,the surprising portrait of a man.

The concreteness,the vigor,the sobriety,the directness of this extremely well-done and fast-paced movie are amazing.A director who does such a film really respects his public.It is a fact that,directing his "Madigan",Siegel made not even one single mistake.Everything fits.The pace is maintained powerfully ("Year of the Dragon" does not bear comparison with "Madigan").

Widmark is a standout as Madigan,a brutal and lively detective.Widmark's performance has a shocking intensity and strength.This role is a CREATION,and shows again the astonishing qualities Widmark had.He looks as cold,tough and sinister as usually.(I'm glad this movie was made,because Widmark deserved it so much!)I grant Fonda's character needed to be developed,enlarged,explained.

For one reason or another,"Madigan" is not a very famous movie.But this means nothing,the vast majority of the great movies aren't famous nor awarded.

"Russell"'s mistress has a fine line:"Adultery is a lonely business".

This movie is unconventional,intelligent and precise;it is thrilling as Balzac is,as life is.

Great Film (IMDB: 9)

On: 6/21/2006 12:00:00 AM By: irishmully
I think it was a great movie. Steve Inhat was a favorite of mine during his short career. Widmark,Guardino,Whitmore were terrific. I thought it had a lot of intertwining plots. Inger looked great. Guardino & Widmark played off each other very well. Both displayed an array of strengths and weaknesses.Inhat played an outstanding villain. I first recognized his talent as a bigot in the "Chase". I believe he might have done some directing and writing before his untimely death. The episode where Warren Stevens makes a play for Inger was believable and a treat. The picture captured the New York scene during that period. A real mix of characters---Creeps,prostitutes,ex-pugs,midgets etc I watch it every time it comes on TV

A remarkable, adult police drama with strong performances (IMDB: 7)

On: 1/14/2006 12:00:00 AM By: DAVID (baldomanegro)
While I was watching this quite brilliant film I was constantly thinking about the greatly written passages that can be heard throughout. In addition to that, Siegel's direction is never less than gripping and helps the story with flashes of genius. The acting benefits from a perfect casting in which no one seems out of place. I enjoyed Richard Widmark and Henry Fonda, of course, but also James Whitmore who around 25 years later also excelled in Frank Darabont's "The Shawshank Redemption". A fine film such as "Madigan" must have a powerful ending and that's the case here. The last 10 minutes show Siegel's mastery at his best. The final shooting comes unexpectedly and smartly gets to the point. Cop movies can be good or bad, but should always be truthful. I recommend "Madigan" just for that.

A remarkable, adult police drama with strong performances (IMDB: 7)

On: 1/14/2006 12:00:00 AM By: baldomanegro
While I was watching this quite brilliant film I was constantly thinking about the greatly written passages that can be heard throughout. In addition to that, Siegel's direction is never less than gripping and helps the story with flashes of genius. The acting benefits from a perfect casting in which no one seems out of place. I enjoyed Richard Widmark and Henry Fonda, of course, but also James Whitmore who around 25 years later also excelled in Frank Darabont's "The Shawshank Redemption". A fine film such as "Madigan" must have a powerful ending and that's the case here. The last 10 minutes show Siegel's mastery at his best. The final shooting comes unexpectedly and smartly gets to the point. Cop movies can be good or bad, but should always be truthful. I recommend "Madigan" just for that.

(IMDB: 7/10)

On: 12/10/2005 12:00:00 AM By: bkoganbing
Benefitting from the location shooting in New York of the Sixties,Madigan is a fast paced police action thriller. Richard Widmark andHarry Guardino are a pair of veteran NYPD detectives who get the tablesturned on them by a suspected killer they were trying to bring in.They've got 72 hours to find him or face the consequences. In additionto losing suspect Steve Ihnat, Ihnat also relieved them of their policeweapons.

You get the feeling that both Widmark and Guardino are past their primeand maybe ought to be coasting towards retirement with desk duty. Theway Ihnat gets the better of them in the movie has to be seen to bebelieved and I won't say more.

Widmark and Guardino are both good in their parts, but the actinghonors have to go to Steve Ihnat in this film. He is one the mostmaniacal killers ever brought to the silver screen and you won't forgethim after seeing Madigan. Tragically he died four years after this filmwas made and a great career was cut short. Besides this film, Ihnat isprobably best known for another maniacal portrayal on a Star Trekepisode where he's a convict who takes over a futuristic prison andwants to use the Enterprise as a getaway vehicle.

The film is based on a novel entitled The Commissioner and that titlepart goes to Henry Fonda. In the films of Henry Fonda he says he wastricked into this film. As you might gather the character of the NYPDPolice Commissioner is the central one in the novel and it was on thatbasis that Fonda took the part. Didn't turn out that way, but Fondastuck it out, partially because he admired Widmark as a player havingworked with him previously in Warlock.

Madigan being directed by Don Siegel is a forerunner of the more famousHarry Callahan character that Siegel directed Clint Eastwood in thefirst of the Dirty Harry films.

The action doesn't slow for a second even in the scenes not involvingthe pursuit of Ihnat because of the tension Siegel creates. And ofcourse the character created by Ihnat.

(IMDB: 6/10)

On: 10/6/2005 12:00:00 AM By: oliver-177
This is a very "late '60s" detective drama, and if you're in the mood,it will hit the spot.

What struck me, and it has not been picked up by other posters, is thevery visible difference between the majority of the scenes, shot onauthentic NYC locations, and a few scenes straight from the Universalbacklot, on urbanistically nonsensical streets with no gutters.

The studio shot scenes (and the school-of-Lalo-Shifrin score) increasethe impression that you are watching a first class TV movie. It allmakes you hungry for a dinner in a foil tray.

Definitely entertaining, in a period way.

Great bookends, sagging middle (IMDB: 6)

On: 2/1/2005 12:00:00 AM By: BrandtSponseller
Detective Daniel Madigan (Richard Widmark) and Detective Rocco Bonaro (Harry Guardino) enter a squalid Manhattan apartment building to pick up Barney Benesch (Steve Ihnat), who is wanted for questioning on a case in Brooklyn. When Benesch manages to take Madigan and Bonaro's guns away and escape, Police Commissioner Anthony X Russell (Henry Fonda) tells them that they have 72 hours to get Benesch back, or else.

Out of all of the Don Siegel-directed films I've seen to date, this was the biggest disappointment. The film begins and ends with fantastic action sequences--well directed, well shot, with a nice, gritty feel, but in between the film felt overlong, overly complex, and far too soap-opera-like for my tastes.

It could be due to Madigan being adapted from a novel, but Abraham Polonsky and Howard Rodman's ("Henri Simoun" here) script includes so many different threads, most of them inconsequential to the outcome of the film, that it almost begins to lose coherence in the middle. It's a bad sign when the major arc of the story is completed, but characters still have to engage in a number of "But what about so and so?" verbal tags at the end of the film to try to satisfy the audience.

It feels almost as if Madigan is made for two entirely different crowds--one, fans of gritty crime action films, and the other, fans of realist dramas cum soap operas. I can't imagine the former caring about most of the material in the middle (unless it had a pay off towards their genre), and I can't imagine the latter being interested in the action scenes. Most of the material in the middle, although it has some more than admirable dialogue and decent performances, hinges on a complex web of personal and professional relationships--various romantic affairs, questionable relations between the police and citizens, and so on. It all comes to naught in the end. Also not helping is Henry Fonda's odd aloofness. Again, it might work if it had some other payoff, but it doesn't.

Still, the positive aspects were good enough to not bring my score below a 6. The film might also play better on a second viewing, where you better know how to adjust your expectations as it goes along. On a first, uninformed viewing, the beginning is likely to gear you up for a great, suspenseful and witty ride, leaving you disappointed in the middle, until you finally adjust and then you're awakened again with action at the end.

(IMDB: 6/10)

On: 2/1/2005 12:00:00 AM By: Brandt Sponseller
Detective Daniel Madigan (Richard Widmark) and Detective Rocco Bonaro(Harry Guardino) enter a squalid Manhattan apartment building to pickup Barney Benesch (Steve Ihnat), who is wanted for questioning on acase in Brooklyn. When Benesch manages to take Madigan and Bonaro'sguns away and escape, Police Commissioner Anthony X Russell (HenryFonda) tells them that they have 72 hours to get Benesch back, or else.

Out of all of the Don Siegel-directed films I've seen to date, this wasthe biggest disappointment. The film begins and ends with fantasticaction sequences--well directed, well shot, with a nice, gritty feel,but in between the film felt overlong, overly complex, and far toosoap-opera-like for my tastes.

It could be due to Madigan being adapted from a novel, but AbrahamPolonsky and Howard Rodman's ("Henri Simoun" here) script includes somany different threads, most of them inconsequential to the outcome ofthe film, that it almost begins to lose coherence in the middle. It's abad sign when the major arc of the story is completed, but charactersstill have to engage in a number of "But what about so and so?" verbaltags at the end of the film to try to satisfy the audience.

It feels almost as if Madigan is made for two entirely differentcrowds--one, fans of gritty crime action films, and the other, fans ofrealist dramas cum soap operas. I can't imagine the former caring aboutmost of the material in the middle (unless it had a pay off towardstheir genre), and I can't imagine the latter being interested in theaction scenes. Most of the material in the middle, although it has somemore than admirable dialogue and decent performances, hinges on acomplex web of personal and professional relationships--variousromantic affairs, questionable relations between the police andcitizens, and so on. It all comes to naught in the end. Also nothelping is Henry Fonda's odd aloofness. Again, it might work if it hadsome other payoff, but it doesn't.

Still, the positive aspects were good enough to not bring my scorebelow a 6. The film might also play better on a second viewing, whereyou better know how to adjust your expectations as it goes along. On afirst, uninformed viewing, the beginning is likely to gear you up for agreat, suspenseful and witty ride, leaving you disappointed in themiddle, until you finally adjust and then you're awakened again withaction at the end.

Tough Widmark! (IMDB: 7)

On: 8/1/2004 12:00:00 AM By: shepardjessica
A fine, harshly realistic Don Siegel film from the late 60's with Richard Widmark superb as Madigan. Steve Ihnat (from THE CHASE) is also a perfect twisted and aggressive villain with able support from Harry Guardino. The lovely Inger Stevens is touching in one of her last roles before her untimely demise.

A 7 out of 10. Best performance = Steve Ihnat (who died too young). Don Siegel made a lot of good films and this is near the top of the list. One of the pro-cop films before Dirty Harry blasted it open. Once again, Inger Stevens will break your heart near the end of this and she never looked more beautiful in her all too short career. Well worth anyone's time.