Fort Apache, the Bronx Reviews
The story itself is dull and meaningless, quite a bit of murder and drugs but with little purpose in the story. Most of the characters are cocky tough guys, it sends a very dark message about the Bronx.
In the end I was glad it was over, the film had no message, the story was nothing special at all, daft ending. It was almost like it was written purely to put Newman in a police uniform except they hadn't thought of a decent story. Or maybe it was simply trying to showcase what a shit-hole the Bronx was.
Truly worth watching
"Fort Apache, The Bronx" is an uneven dark, depressing and partly hopeless tale of the long arm of the law in the largely devastated wasteland of the South Bronx. NYC in the early 80s was gritty and filled with all sorts of characters, thus the glitzy clean city scape of NYC today is something else. The former was of course a great setting to make a movie about cops in a part which was infamous at the time of being quite dangerous. We get a close up of poverty, despair, racism, drugs, prostitution, police corruption, violence and the mentality of a place under siege. Paul Newman´s Murphy tries to do his job, but his conscience is in a constant conflict, and Newman does a great job to portray Murphy. Ken Wahl is good as his partner, Ed Asner is good as the Captain, Danny Aiello works well as the corrupt and violent Morgan, Rachel Ticotin (such a beautiful actress) is good as Isabella and it´s interesting to see Pam Grier tackle the drugged out prostitute Charlotte. I do agree to some of the critique I have red, that it´s not fully balanced and there´s no real plot. It feels more like a set of events stitched together. I do like the analogy of the precinct being like "Fort Apache" and I also do like to re-see the good old NYC cop uniforms from the early 80s. "Fort Apache, The Bronx" has great acting in it, but miss out on a more worked out plot line to really satisfy.
The film is somewhat of a character study, and it has a very loose, episodic flow, instead of a rigidly structured plot. I think this helps the film. However, there are a few scenes that feel like they've been suddenly cut short, and the transitions between them feel really abrupt and choppy. Aside from that though, I don't have too many other issues. I mean the film is guilty of numerous genre cliches, but what film isn't?
Newman does a pretty good and believable job in the lead. As his love interest, a nurse who also happens to be a junkie, Rachel Ticotin is okay, but not really excellent or anything. Pam Grier (who sadly doesn't have as much screen time as I had hoped) has a small but memorable supporting role as a junkie prostitute/murderer. She does a really good job, and exhibits some fine method acting. Her memoir gives some intersting details about how she prepared for this movie, as well as some good information about it in general. Asner, Wahl, and Aiello are also all likewise decent.
What works best here though, is the location shooting, and the cinematography. It was shot on location throughout The Bronx, and things look quite realistic, run down and grimy. There's some really good long deep focus shots and some nice lighting and framing here as well. As much as I liked this movie, I can't say I'd want to visit that place during that time. I liked the music, but I could have used more of it.
Give this one a shot. The critics seem to miss the point with this one. Yeah, it's not really innovative, but it's pretty decently made, has great atmosphere, look, mood, and tone, the performances are good, and it's pretty watchable and entertaining. What more, really, could you ask for?
'No Cowboys, No Indians, No Cavalry To The Rescue, Only A Cop.'
Corelli: That's a nice coat. How'd you like me to cut it open, let all the rats out.
Pimp: This coat cost more than you make in a year, motherfucker.
Murphy: He knows your name.
Corelli: Told you I was famous.
Connolly: What's all this Indian junk?
Heffernan: Well, you know the precinct is nicknamed 'Fort Apache'...
Applebaum: The men put that up, Captain. Guy goes on vacation, he brings back some kind of souvenir, you know?
Connolly: It makes the place look like a fraternity house... take it down, lieutenant.
Applebaum: It's not a good idea, Captain.
Connolly: And let's see about getting this place painted.
Heffernan: Well that's kind of a problem, painters won't come up here.
Connolly: We'll have to get all those civilians out from in front of the precinct.
Applebaum: We can't do that.
Connolly: [stops, turns and looks Applebaum in the eye] Excuse me?
Applebaum: This is the only place the old folks can go without getting mugged. See, it's not a police station, it's a fort in hostile territory, you understand?
Heffernan: [agreeing] 'Fort Apache'.
Morgan: [after Murphy failed to shoot down a purse snatcher who outran him] You'll catch a heart attack before you catch a nigger, Tarzan.
Corelli: What's his problem?
Murphy: He thinks I'm a liberal.
Murphy: You want to go out tonight, have a drink?
Isabella: Two hundred cops ask me out every day. Why should I say yes to you?
Murphy: Cause you say yes to all the others.
Isabella: Well I guess that makes you the only cop in the Bronx I say no to.