The First Deadly Sin (1980) / Thriller
MPAA Rated: R for violence and language
Running Time: 112 min.
Cast: Frank Sinatra, Faye Dunaway, David Dukes, George Coe, Brenda Vaccaro, Martin Gabel, Anthony Zerbe, James Whitmore, Joe Spinell
Director: Brian G. Hutton
Screenplay: Mann Rubin
Review published June 20, 1999
Someone is stalking the streets of New York with a small pickaxe and clonking people on the head, leaving dead bodies all around. Never fear because NYPD detective Ed Delaney (Sinatra, The Manchurian Candidate) is on the case.
Based on the bestselling novel by Lawrence Sanders, The First Deadly Sin is an overly simplistic and relatively unstylish thriller that leaves one wondering how much better this film could have been if Roman Polanski (Frantic, The Pianist), who was slated to direct this film when statutory rape charges forced him from the country, would have been able to follow through. Needless to say, he probably would have given this film more flair than Brian G. Hutton shows here. That's not to say Hutton can't be good -- he directed such films as Kelly's Heroes and Where Eagles Dare to much success, but he needed to put in little effort in making a more suspenseful vehicle for Blue Eyes, here in his first film in ten years. Only Sinatra and a competent supporting cast keep this film afloat most of the way, but once the killer gets his lines, Sin becomes laughably bad in the end. Dirty Harry it's not.
©1999 Vince Leo