Watching “Serpico” with my Thirteen-Year-Old Son

Joey Skee (July 02, 2008)
Musings on heroes, role models, and the Italian-American imaginative

During a Sunday night downpour in Brooklyn, my son Lucca and I scrounged through our humble DVD collection for something new to watch. After reading aloud several titles, we both agreed on Sidney Lumet’s Serpico (1973), part of an Al Pacino collection I received as a birthday gift in April. 

The youngest child of an immigrant father and an Italian-raised mother, Brooklyn-born Serpico served on the police force from 1959 to 1971.  He was an oddity; not only did he sport a beard and long hair as an undercover detective, Serpico was a ‘clean cop” unwilling to take bribes and payoffs. In 1970, Serpico went public on widespread police corruption, prompting Mayor John Lindsay to establish the Knapp Commission, an independent investigating committee. Although he retired from the NYPD in 1972, Serpico continues to speak out on police corruption and brutality.