Abel Ferrara’s 1992 cult film, Bad Lieutenant, is a bleak, dismal, and punishingly grim film. In a good way. The New York City of Ferrara’s movie is filled with all of the venial and most of the deadly sins. Harvey Keitel delivers a showstopping performance as a brutal corrupt cop so dirty he has started disgusting even himself. If his life got any more sordid, he could probably sell tickets. The least of his vices is gambling, which has gotten him in trouble with the mob. He abuses his body with drugs and his soul with hookers, and now he’s turned to exploiting teenage girls for sex. His investigation of the rape of a nun brings him face-to-face with his longing for redemption. Keitel owned the role, and didn’t shy away from showing all of himself (full frontal, even) to the audience. It’s a staggering performance, but that is what we have come to expect from Mr. Keitel, whether it’s in “Pulp Fiction” as The Wolf or in “The Piano” as Naked Yet Again Keitel. However we couldn’t put all of his movies in our top five, even though they are like children to us and our affection for his films know no bounds. Plus he had roles in “Dark Shadows” and “Hogan’s Heroes,” which made our decisions that much more difficult. Pretty sure this is what “Sophie’s Choice” was about. Just for you we persevered.
Here are five Harvey Keitel movies we love:
1. “Taxi Driver”
2. “Reservoir Dogs”
4. Three Seasons
5. From Dusk Till Dawn
“Bad Lieutenant” airs on IFC at 10:30 p.m. ET