American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
"The Detective" contains a fine performance by Frank Sinatra, some very good scenes of police work, and not much else. It is a potentially excellent movie struggling to free itself from a heavy-handed script by Abby Mann and mediocre direction by Gordon Douglas.
Sinatra is always an interesting actor, and in "Tony Rome" and "The Detective" he has mellowed into a genuinely convincing cop. He is weary and wise and tough and cynical in the way Bogart used to be, and indeed he is probably better at these hard-boiled roles than anyone since Bogart died.
It is pretty clear that Sinatra wanted "The Detective" to be as good a movie as he could manage. It provides a clear, unsentimental look at a police investigation, and even the language reflects the way cops (and the rest of us) talk.
This original intention comes through. So do good supporting performances by Al Freeman Jr., as the rookie, and by Horace McMahon, as the veteran captain of detectives. Lee Remick does a fine job as Sinatra's wife, although her role is unnecessary and plays havoc with the continuity of the movie.