Who are the princes of our great city of London? Those who rule decisively yet thievishly, unnoticed in the alleyways, streets and estates from the Old Kent Road to Crucifix Lane? Perhaps they’re the Tooley Street and City Hall politicians, who can at times appear far removed from the lives of ordinary working-class people? Perhaps it’s Bermondsey’s pearly royal family, or even the educated professionals who form what is for many ‘new Bermondsey’?
According to Sidney Lumet’s 1981 American crime film, shown last Sunday at Bermondsey Street’s White Cube as part of their regular ‘Film on Sunday: Artist’s Choice’ event, the malignant moniker belongs to the police in the narcotics division of the NYPD. New York cop Daniel Ciello’s (Treat Williams) career is peppered-heavily with questionable (to say the least) practises: from supplying informants with heroin and beating up Hispanic stool José (José Angel Santana), and later watching him beat-up his girlfriend in an argument about drugs, to entertaining prostitutes at third-rate out-of-town motels. But, Danny wants to go straight and make his father proud by ‘being a good guy’.
|The White Cube, Bermondsey Street, SE1|
The film explores Danny’s tumultuous journey from family man and reluctant police informant of District Attorney Rick Cappalino (Norman Parker), to ex-officer who discovers in an acutely cathartic way that ‘the first thing a cop learns is he can’t trust anyone except his partner’. Through his confessional purging of past crimes and wrong-doing, and the resulting exposition of endemic police corruption in the narcotics department, Danny poses important questions today about our own Metropolitan Police force. Can they be trusted? Are most police racist? Will body cameras improve their behaviour? Should their stop-and-search powers be removed? Just what do they do when the public isn’t looking?
In reality, the question that should be asked is this: why are we doing everything possible to discredit and bring into disrepute our professional and once well-loved police force? You can be sure that most of Britain doesn’t agree with the oh-so fashionable police-bashing that obsesses the metropolitan chattering classes of Blackheath, Hampstead and Hackney's Broadway Market, as they relax safely in the comfort of their premier ADT Yale security system protected five-bedroom Edwardian home.
|City Hall - Home of the Police and Crime Commissioner|
Anyone with an ounce of common sense understands that every organisation has bad apples and rotten eggs: journalists who hack mobile telephones and peddle lies about innocent people; advertising and PR executives who twist the truth about a product; teachers and nurses who abuse their position or cut-corners. In fact, the 1999 Macpherson report, embodied in the subsequent update to race relations legislation, stated that corruption is not the sole-provision of the police. We don’t hate the entire nursing profession because a minority of them fall below our high expectations, or because some of them hold racist attitudes.
|Filmed in Bermondsey during 80s and 90s|
So why do these über-liberals have it in for the police? Simple: because long ago they embarked on a mission to destroy the institutions and individuals that act as the glue holding Britain together. They’ll have you believing that the blame for the 2011 riots lies with the bankers, rather than the thugs who destroyed families and the livelihoods of our hardworking business community. Why don’t they place the entire teaching profession in their line of fire? One imagines that many of their best friends are teachers…
These über-liberals are synonymous with the prosecutors who promised Danny his support in exchange for his testimony. They claim to love and care for Bermondsey’s working-classes, but do everything they can to annihilate the institutions that they need: police, armed forces, government, monarchy, family, religion, tax-avoiding pop-star role models and yes bankers: a middle-class-muck-about that’s unspeakably dangerous. A very wise man once suggested we all take the plank from our eyes before removing the speck from someone else’s – something for us all to consider perhaps?
|Image Copyright Cineplex.com|
At heart, Danny is a good man. Ultimately, Cappalino’s reassurance to a dressing-gown clad Ciello that his team will ‘never force you to do something you can’t live with’ doesn’t play-out in the way he expected. His wife (Lindsay Crouse) is certain that he will be coerced into exposing his colleagues' own misconduct.
So, this blog crowns the White Cube, Bermondsey Street as the new prince of SE1 for showing a new film every Sunday; and there’s no corruption around the ticket price – entry is free!
1. The White Cube
2. Southwark Police
3. Safer Neighbourhood Teams