When Tough Guys Rule the Cinema- Episode 12: Fort Apache
From the mean and rugged streets of the Bronx, where crime seems to be perpetual, comes a riveting drama about the worst police precinct in New York City. Following the lives of two local cops – Murphy, played by Paul Newman [Cool Hand Luke, The Hustler] and Corelli, played by Ken Wahl [The Wanderers, The Soldier], “Fort Apache” tells a blue collar story, with a blue collar cast that is sexually charged and equally as brazen.
When two rookie cops are brutally murdered in the broad daylight, the new police chief, played by Ed Asner [JFK, UP], changes the way things are run in Fort Apache and demands violence and payback as opposed to just letting things go and letting crime prevail. That is where Murphy and Corelli come in, as they try to clean up the streets and take action. Together, they display a sense of toughness and courage that makes them a force to be reckoned with, which is only strengthened by their utmost respect for one another.
Murphy is a hard-nosed cop – by-the-book and unyielding, with a distinct lack of ability to follow orders. He is honest though and believes in a clean system that does things the right way. On occasion, he gets honest advice from his partner in crime, Corelli, about opening up and becoming one of the guys, as opposed to the loner he was at the start of the film. Overall, Newman’s performance in this film is an absolute pleasure to watch. Although it is a drama, there are plenty of laughs, as Newman lights up the camera and puts a smile on the face of the observing audience.
One example is scene in which a man ha s a knife threatening pedestrians in front of a store in broad daylight. Here comes Newman, approaching the man like a goofy clown, making funny faces and noises while he takes the knife away. Like stealing candy from a baby, Newman cements this classic scene with plenty of entertainment and laughs.
The film isn’t all nuts and guts though and does get romantic when Murphy falls for a local nurse named Isabella, played by Rachel Ticotin [Fallin Down, Con Air]. As their relationship gets serious, Murphy discovers a flaw that causes a few bumps in the road, as well as a tragic downfall – an absolute tearjerker for the viewer.
While “Fort Apache” is known for its great starring cast, it also has an excellent supporting cast, such as Pam Grier [Jackie Brown, Bones] who plays an attractive, yet murderous hooker (that 20 bucks is certainly not worth your life) and Danny Aiello [29th street, Do the Right Thing], who plays officer Morgan, a corrupt cop known for one of the most shocking scenes in cinematic history.
Let’s just say that spending time on roof tops will be a concern in the near future.
Aiello’s fight with Newman keeps the audience on the edge of their seats, emanating toughness and a no-nonsense attitude throughout.
With a great cast, cool fight scenes and plenty of action, “Fort Apache” is a must-watch, classic cop movie. Newman is spectacular, giving a performance that will make you appreciate him as an actor and consider him as one of the greats of all time – a fun and riveting ride all the way through.
Calling all cars: Fort Apache is under attack.
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