Thin Blue Lie
This true story of a 1970s Philadelphia police corruption scandal stars Rob Morrow as Jonathan Neuman, a prize-winning investigative journalist. When he hears stories about a secret cop vigilante group called “The Goon Squad,” the city reporter drags his reluctant partner, Phil Chadway (Randy Quaid), and beautiful colleague Kate Johnson (Cynthia Preston) into the case, which they quickly discover is made up of a lot more than just rumors. Their entry into the story is the confession of a mentally impaired man who was beaten severely by police. As the investigators probe the incident and begin to uncover ties to the office of the mayor (Paul Sorvino), the Goon Squad launches a campaign of scare tactics designed to intimidate them into dropping the story. “The Thin Blue Lie” premieres Sunday, 8/13/00, on Showtime at 8:00 PM (ET/PT).
I hate seeing films depicting bad cops and police corruption. These productions always seem to be a slap in the face of those dedicated to protecting our communities. But the truth remains: there are bad cops and there is police corruption. Showtime’s look at police wrongdoing in Philadelphia during the ‘70s exposes a vigilante mentality where frustrated law enforcers crossed the line by coercing confessions with the use of torture and intimidation. The film chronicles police brutality while it lionizes its lead character. Is this reporter really the greatest justice seeker since Abraham Lincoln? According to the film’s producers, he is. While he is constantly intimidated by Neanderthalic patrolmen and surrounded by languorous newspapermen, Jonathan Nueman stands alone for truth, justice and the American way. Well, truth, justice, the American way, and the Pulitzer Price. Although I am suspicious when movie reporters are elevated to sainthood and everyone else portrayed is a dullard, what cannot be denied are the articles Mr. Neuman wrote, taking on the politically ambitious mayor and the immoral police force. Sadly, as we are faced with alleged wrongdoing by such law enforcement agencies as Los Angeles’s Rampart Division, and others, the exposure of unprincipled policemen during the late 1970s evidently hasn’t completely diminished unscrupulous tactics in the new millennium. While I found some of the dialogue obtuse and Randy Quaid’s character vapid, the film does hold your attention. It doesn’t examine in great detail why good cops embraced unlawful strategies, but, as a mystery thriller, it does achieve a suspenseful atmosphere. If you liked Rob Morrow in “Northern Exposure” where the actor bellyached about living in Alaska, and in Robert Redford’s “Quiz Show” where he exposed TV game show scandals, then there’s no reason why you wouldn’t like him here. However, due to the profane language and excessive brutality, we are unable to recommend it for family viewing.