Adapted by Waldo Salt and Norman Wexler from Peter Maas’s book, Sidney L umet’s drama portrays the real-life struggle of an honest Ne w York City cop against a corrupt system. Neophyte officer Frank Serpico (Al Pacino ) is determined not to let his job get in the way of his individuality. Despite his colleagues’ leery reactions, he keeps one foot firmly plant ed in the counterculture, sporting a b eard and love beads and living in bohemian Greenwich Village, while he performs his police duties with di spatch. Serpico’s peers gen uinely ostracize him, however, when he refus es to take bribes like everybody else. Appalled by the extent of police corruption, Serp ico goes to his superiors, but when he discovers that t hey have ignored his charges, he takes the potentially fatal step of bre aking the blue wall of silence and going public with his exposé. Serpic o’s revelations trigger an independent investigation by the Knapp Commis sion, but they also make him a marked man, permanently changing his life . Shot on location with a gritty emphasis on documenta ry-style realism, Serpico presents a city in decay both literally and morally, as everybo dy is in on the take, and the cops and crim inals are almost interchange able. Released in late 1973, after months of revelations of Presidential malfeasance in the breaking Wat ergate scandal, Serpico’s true story of bureaucratic depravity touched a cultural nerve, and the film became a hit with both critics and audiences, particularly for Pacino’s complex performance as the honest, long-haired whistle-blower. One year after hi s star-mak ing triumph in The Godfather, Pacino was nominated for an Osc ar again, and lost again; Lumet and Pacino would reunite two years late r for another true New York story, Dog Day Afternoon.