Correy Gibbons

Written by Correy Gibbons

Modified & Updated: 23 May 2024

Jessica Corbett

Reviewed by Jessica Corbett


Serpico is a classic crime drama film released in 1973, directed by Sidney Lumet and starring Al Pacino in the leading role. Inspired by true events, the movie tells the gripping story of Frank Serpico, an honest and idealistic New York City police officer who exposes corruption within the police department.

Serpico received critical acclaim upon its release and has since become a cult classic. It not only shed light on the corrupt practices within law enforcement but also showcased Pacino’s remarkable talent as an actor, earning him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

In this article, we delve into 37 fascinating facts about the movie Serpico, from its production details to behind-the-scenes anecdotes. Whether you’re a fan of the film or a curious cinephile, these insights will provide a deeper understanding and appreciation of this iconic crime thriller.

Key Takeaways:

  • “Serpico” is a 1973 crime drama based on the true story of Frank Serpico, a courageous police officer who exposed corruption. Al Pacino’s powerful performance and the film’s impact make it a must-watch classic.
  • Serpico” sheds light on the struggles of an honest cop and the importance of ethical police work. It’s a gripping and thought-provoking movie that continues to resonate with audiences, sparking important conversations about integrity and justice.
Table of Contents

Serpico was released in 1973.

Serpico, directed by Sidney Lumet, is a crime drama film that was released in 1973, captivating audiences with its gritty portrayal of police corruption.

The movie is based on a true story.

Serpico is based on the real-life experiences of Frank Serpico, an honest New York City police officer who exposed corruption within the force.

Al Pacino portrays Frank Serpico.

The legendary actor Al Pacino delivers a powerful performance as Frank Serpico, capturing the character’s determination and moral compass.

The film was a critical and commercial success.

Serpico received widespread critical acclaim, praised for its realistic portrayal of corruption and Pacino’s exceptional acting. It was also a box office success, grossing over $29 million.

Serpico was nominated for two Academy Awards.

The film received nominations for Best Actor (Al Pacino) and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (Waldo Salt and Norman Wexler).

The role of Frank Serpico was offered to other actors.

Prior to Al Pacino’s casting, the role of Frank Serpico was offered to actors such as Jack Nicholson and Robert Redford, who turned it down.

The movie highlights the struggles of an honest cop.

Serpico depicts the challenges faced by Frank Serpico as he tries to maintain his integrity amidst a corrupt police department.

The film’s screenplay was based on a biography.

The screenplay for Serpico was adapted from Peter Maas’ book titled “Serpico,” which chronicled the true story of the courageous officer.

Serpico created controversy within the NYPD.

Following the release of the film, Serpico sparked debates and discussions within the New York City Police Department about the issue of corruption.

The movie accurately captures the 1970s era.

Serpico beautifully recreates the atmosphere and visuals of New York City in the 1970s, immersing viewers in the gritty urban landscape.

The film was shot on location in New York City.

Serpico was primarily filmed on the streets of New York City, adding to the authenticity and realism of the movie.

Frank Serpico praised Al Pacino’s portrayal.

Frank Serpico himself praised Al Pacino’s performance in the film, stating that Pacino captured his essence and the challenges he faced while exposing corruption.

The movie’s soundtrack was composed by Mikis Theodorakis.

Mikis Theodorakis, a renowned Greek composer, provided the haunting and memorable score for Serpico, enhancing the emotional impact of the film.

Serpico influenced other films about police corruption.

The success and impact of Serpico paved the way for other films exploring themes of police corruption, such as Training Day and The Departed.

Serpico remains a relevant and thought-provoking film.

Even decades after its release, Serpico continues to resonate with audiences, raising important questions about ethics, integrity, and the abuse of power.

The movie showcases a strong supporting cast.

In addition to Al Pacino, Serpico features talented actors such as John Randolph, Tony Roberts, and Jack Kehoe, who deliver captivating performances.

Serpico explores the consequences of standing up against corruption.

The film delves into the personal and professional repercussions faced by Frank Serpico as he takes a stand against the corrupt system.

The movie was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

Serpico received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama (Al Pacino).

Serpico is considered a classic of American cinema.

The enduring legacy of Serpico has solidified its status as a classic film, remaining relevant and influential in the crime drama genre.

The film showcases New York City’s diverse neighborhoods.

Serpico takes viewers on a visual journey through various neighborhoods in New York City, highlighting its multiculturalism and distinct character.

Serpico is a testament to the power of whistleblowers.

The film portrays Frank Serpico as a courageous whistleblower, inspiring others to speak out against injustice and corruption.

The script was rewritten numerous times.

Before settling on the final script, the screenplay for Serpico went through several revisions to ensure accuracy and emotional impact.

Serpico received a Special Achievement Award.

The film was honored with a Special Achievement Award at the 1974 British Academy Film Awards for its groundbreaking portrayal of police corruption.

Serpico is based on actual police documents.

The screenplay drew extensively from real police documents and records, adding a layer of authenticity to the story.

The movie explores themes of isolation and betrayal.

Serpico delves into emotional themes of isolation and betrayal, examining the toll Frank Serpico’s actions take on his personal relationships.

Serpico was praised for its realism.

The film’s realistic portrayal of police corruption and the complex dynamics within the force earned it high praise from critics and audiences alike.

The movie highlights the importance of ethical police work.

Serpico serves as a reminder of the crucial role played by honest and ethical police officers in maintaining law and order.

The film’s production faced challenges.

The production of Serpico faced various challenges, including clashes between director Sidney Lumet and producer Martin Bregman, which led to tense moments on set.

The movie explores the psychological toll of fighting corruption.

Serpico delves into the psychological struggles experienced by Frank Serpico as he battles against a corrupt system, portraying the toll it takes on his mental well-being.

The film’s cinematography captures the gritty atmosphere of the era.

The cinematography in Serpico effectively captures the gritty and atmospheric essence of New York City in the 1970s, immersing viewers in its urban landscape.

Serpico received accolades from the New York Film Critics Circle.

The New York Film Critics Circle recognized Serpico with awards for Best Actor (Al Pacino) and Best Director (Sidney Lumet).

The movie was praised for its attention to detail.

Serpico was commended for its meticulous attention to detail, accurately reflecting the attire, slang, and social context of the 1970s.

Serpico remains a timeless exploration of moral integrity.

The themes explored in Serpico, such as moral integrity and the courage to stand up for what is right, resonate with audiences across generations.

The film is an intense character study.

Serpico delves deep into the character of Frank Serpico, showcasing his motivations, struggles, and unwavering commitment to justice.

Serpico inspired a documentary.

The success of the film led to the creation of a documentary titled “Frank Serpico,” which further delved into the true story behind the movie.

The movie’s impact extended beyond the screen.

Serpico sparked important conversations about police accountability and corruption, leading to reforms within the police force.

Serpico is a must-watch for fans of crime dramas.

With its gripping storyline, stellar performances, and thought-provoking themes, Serpico remains a must-watch for all enthusiasts of crime dramas.


In conclusion, the movie Serpico is a timeless classic that continues to captivate audiences with its gripping story and memorable performances. Al Pacino’s portrayal of Frank Serpico is nothing short of brilliant, showcasing the struggles of an honest cop in a corrupt system. The film delves into themes of morality, corruption, and the power of standing up for what is right, making it a must-watch for any movie lover.


Q: Is Serpico based on a true story?
A: Yes, Serpico is based on the real-life experiences of Frank Serpico, a former New York City police officer who blew the whistle on corruption within the police department in the 1970s.

Q: Who directed the movie Serpico?
A: Serpico was directed by Sidney Lumet, who is known for his outstanding contributions to the crime genre.

Q: When was Serpico released?
A: Serpico was released in 1973 and quickly became a critical and commercial success.

Q: Did Al Pacino win any awards for his performance in Serpico?
A: Although he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, Al Pacino did not win. Nevertheless, his portrayal of Frank Serpico remains one of his most iconic roles.

Q: Is Serpico suitable for all audiences?
A: Serpico is rated R for its mature content, including violence and language. Viewers should exercise caution and consider the film’s content before watching.

Q: Are there any other movies similar to Serpico?
A: If you enjoyed Serpico, you might also enjoy other crime dramas such as The Departed, Training Day, and The French Connection.

Was this page helpful?

Our commitment to delivering trustworthy and engaging content is at the heart of what we do. Each fact on our site is contributed by real users like you, bringing a wealth of diverse insights and information. To ensure the highest standards of accuracy and reliability, our dedicated editors meticulously review each submission. This process guarantees that the facts we share are not only fascinating but also credible. Trust in our commitment to quality and authenticity as you explore and learn with us.