We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
Who would have thought, in all honesty, that Frank Sinatra had this performance still left in him? Ten years after his last film, the dismal "Dirty Dingus Magee," and longer than that since the schlock of "Tony Rome" and "Lady in Cement," here he is again with a quiet, poignant, and very effective performance as the centerpiece of "The First Deadly Sin." The movie is one of the season's pleasant surprises.
Sinatra plays Ed Delaney, a New York police detective with only a few weeks until his retirement. He goes out to investigate a routine mugging and discovers that the victim has been killed by a strange weapon: The impact on the skull is like nothing he's seen before. He stumbles over a couple of related cases, and begins to suspect that the same madman is responsible for them all. Delaney's boss would basically just like him to forget about it and retire, but some small core of stubbornness won't let Delaney let go.
At the same time, things are not going well in his private life. His wife (Faye Dunaway) has had a kidney removed and is in the hospital, critically ill. Delaney is living a bachelor's existence in their town house-which probably reflects her taste in the antiques and plants that stand ready as a backdrop to his retirement. He is a quiet man, firm but not demonstrative, and even his determination to follow through on the murder case isn't heroic, it's just dogged.
The movie surrounds Sinatra with a gallery of good character actors in good roles: There's the raspy coroner (James Whitmore) and the oily doorman (Joe Spinell) and the little old curator of antiquities (George Coe) who improbably figures out what was probably used as the murder weapon.