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One Is All It Usually Takes
by Jon Schuller

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So many movies have plots that revolve around people making choices both good and bad. What are those choices? Why make them? What are the circumstances? Who else will be affected by them? These and myriad other questions surround the central characters and change their lives, sometimes forever. I enjoy watching and getting involved with films like these because in our real lives, we too face decisions every day some small, some large. There are no guarantees regardless of what we decide and no one can see the future exactly right. We must think about so many things and we don't always have the luxuries of time and space. On-the-spot decisions can surprise us, if not overwhelm us altogether. A movie that premiered in May, 1991, tells the story of a dedicated man who risks his life every day for the public and puts everything on the line for those he loves. One Good Cop starred Michael Keaton, Rene Russo, Anthony LaPaglia, Benjamin Bratt and Rachel Ticotin.

The film introduces us to a
New York Police Detective Artie Lewis (Keaton), his wife Rita (Russo) and Artie's partner, Stevie Diroma (LaPaglia). Stevie is a widower with three young daughters to whom he is devoted. The two detectives, along with their partner, Felix (Bratt), survive a perilous battle in a housing project and realize how tough they are despite the daily dangers of their jobs.

Not long after that encounter, Stevie is killed in a hostage situation by a drug addict, Mickey Garrett (David Barry Gray). His three daughters, Marian, Barbara and Carol, have become orphans; Barbara is diabetic and needs daily insulin shots. Artie tells Rita he wants to adopt the girls but their apartment is far too small for that. Artie contacts a retired policeman he knows who wants to sell his home to Artie with no strings attached. The problem is Artie can't afford it and is desperate to protect his wife and "daughters." He comes up with a plan to solve the problem.

He knows about a local, powerful drug kingpin,
Beniamino Rios (played to perfection by the great Tony Plana), whom he blames for Stevie's death and where Rios keeps a lot of untraceable cash. Artie, with a gun and ski mask, robs the drug lord of a large amount of that cash, takes $25,000 of it for the house and gives the rest to Father Wills (Vondie Curtis-Hall) for his local homeless shelter. Then it gets complicated.

Beniamano's girlfriend, Grace De Feliz (Rachel Ticotin), is actually an undercover officer who was present in his apartment when Artie broke in and robbed him. She suspects it's Artie but can't prove it as Artie's superior, Lieutenant Danny Quinn (Kevin Conway), defends him as one of his best and most dedicated officers.

A local snitch, who tipped Artie to Beniamano's stash, is tortured by Rios and gives up Artie as the thief. Rios kidnaps Artie and is about to torture him too but Grace exposes herself as a cop and saves Artie. They are forced to kill Beniamano and his followers in the apartment.

Artie writes a
confession to the lieutenant about why he needed the money so badly, especially about Stevie's daughters and how much he wanted to adopt and protect them. Father Wills returns the cash and no charges are brought against Artie and Grace. Lieutenant Quinn knows why he did it and Grace won't testify against him. The confession is destroyed. The girls are safe and Artie keeps his job. He calls Rita and says he's coming home.

Once again, I'm writing about a film that didn't get critical acclaim and didn't score any box office records. But it is essentially a movie with a heart and a soul. The actors portray characters with whom, in my opinion, we can relate to; who are faced with daunting decisions, knowing the risks but take them anyway. The young girls will capture your heart completely. Michael Keaton and Anthony LaPaglia are New York cops, dedicated to their families and their city. They look and sound authentic in One Good Cop. I'll take that any day as a life-long, devoted movie lover. How about you?

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Cinema Savant
Every other Thursday

My views on an eclectic mix of films and personalties, past and present; emotional interpretations; some laughs, some cries.


Other Columns
Other columns by Jon Schuller:

A Penultimate Year For Movies

Just Say No. Again.

How Long Have We Been Scared?

From Sail to Steam to Sail Again

August Boasts Actor Birthdays

All Columns


Jon Schuller
I am a former New Jersey native, living in Charlotte, N.C. for almost 29 years. I am a lifelong movie lover with lots of movie trivia knowledge and soundtracks in my CD collection. I enjoy sharing my love of films with everyone and have so many fond memories growing up in darkened movie theaters. I have been married 50 years (as of December 22, 2018) and we both share a passion for film (and each other of course).



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If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Jon Schuller by clicking here.


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