Last night, for the first time in many years, I watched Sidney Lumet's 1973 film, The Offence, starring Sean Connery. It's yet another of Lumet's strong cop films, though this one is set in England, not New York City. Connery plays a veteran police detective who badly beats up a suspected child molester while questioning him at the police station. The suspect (and throughout he remains just that, a suspect) is played by Ian Bannen, who brings an intense creepiness to the role.
What prompted me to watch the film last night was some reading I'm doing. I'm reading a book now on the films of Christopher Nolan (The Nolan Variations, by Tom Shone), and in the chapter discussing The Dark Knight, which includes remarks from Nolan himself, the book talks about the influence of Lumet's films on Nolan, how Lumet's sense of "systemic rot...a justice system out of balance...a universe permanently askew" fascinate Nolan. These qualities resonate in a lot of Lumet's films, of course, movies such as Serpico, Dog Day Afternoon, Prince of the City, The Verdict, and Q&A. But The Offence in particular is a Lumet film that has made a big impact on Nolan, and in the interplay between Ian Bannen's mocking child molester suspect and Sean Connery's cop, a man ridden with guilt for the things he has seen and done, or not done, over his twenty years on the police force, a man whose head flashes often with gruesome images from crime scenes he has worked, there is much that Nolan would draw upon in The Dark Knight.