Orion Pictures | Release Date: August 21, 1981 CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION
Universal acclaim based on 15 Critic Reviews
Watch Now
Buy on
Stream On
Stream On
Stream On
Williams is only adequate, but nearly everyone else here is great, including Jerry Orbach (Ciello mentor) and Bob Balaban (hardball Justice Department creep). [25 May 2007, p.4E]
Divided into five parts, the film is the most ambitious, realistic, thorough and scrupulous feature yet released by a major studio on the subject of cops and corruption...As portrayed electrifyingly - sometimes a little too electrifyingly - by Williams, Ciello's reasons for becoming a stoolie are as complex as his reasons for becoming a cop. [29 Aug 1981]
A heavyweight contender unafraid to take on some of the most harrowing moral and social dilemmas of the day... Prince of the City takes us into the jungle and into the halls of justice, and forces us to see how precarious the line between them is. It's a true horror story. [24 Aug 1981, p.67]
Though it periodically loses its way among cardboard characters and stereotyped scenes, it deserves hefty credit for attempting more than the average movie dreams of accomplishing. [13 Aug 1981, p.18]
The infuriatingly slow pace proves a point, but it makes for a gritty-eyed viewer with mashed potatoes for brains...It's a relief to escape the theater after this one, though it's good for several hours of discussion over dinner. It's not entertaining, but it does fall into the should-see category. Pop a couple of Stress-Tabs before you go. [2 Oct 1981, p.17]
Williams acts all over the place, yet the movie - 2 hours and 47 minutes of documentary seriousness - is so poorly structured that you keep wondering what's going on and why he has agreed to inform on his friends...Things don't begin to come together until you're heading into the third hour.