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After being criticized by the Citizens' League for his inability to cope with a crime wave, Police Captain Haines orders his men in the Homicide Bureau to clean up all their cases, but without violating the constitutional rights of any suspect. Detective Jim Logan is ordered to meet the incoming new-head of the Police Department lab and internal affairs, J.G. Bliss, and takes an instant dislike to her over her attitude toward criminal's rights. A murder case is turned over to Jim. Chuck Brown, the killer, informs his gang boss, Briggs, that their blackmailer has been killed and Briggs continues with his preparations to ship a cargo of scrap metal metal to foreign war lords to be used for munitions manufacture. Jim arrests Chuck, but if forced by Miss Bliss to release him on grounds of insufficient evidence. In an attempt to force a confession from Chuck, Jim goes to his apartment and, in a scuffle, causes him to fall through a window. The aroused Citizens' League, through its ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Rita Hayworth as the World's Youngest and Most Beautiful Forensic Expert in a Sensational Cop Melodrama
HOMICIDE BUREAU is a nifty little police "B" melodrama from 1939 of interest mainly for the very beautiful (and very young, age 20) Rita Hayworth in the female lead as a forensics expert who replaces a police department's veteran (aged 60 and forced into mandatory retirement!). Across town, ex-felon Marc Lawrence trails a man into a pool hall and shoots him down in the presumably empty hall. The bartender happens onto the scene and (in an astonishingly incredible scene) the ex-con (gun still in his hand) is startled and darts away - the bartender then spots the murder victim's gun (he had been beaten to the draw) picks it up and chases out into the street where he spots the murderer driving away and then begins to shoot up his car but the man gets away. He is later able to identify the man but the man insists he has gone straight and is now a junk dealer and when his gang members replace the windshield with a new, broken windshield and plant a gun in the car that was not the murder weapon, he is released much to "copper" Bruce Cabot's disgust. The man is in fact in the salvage business - but is part of a ring that is selling black market scrap metal to foreign countries to make munitions. There are two more murders, close calls for several cops including the chief, and lots of action before a predictable finale in this 58-minute little pistol with a hard-line "once a crook, always a crook" mentality.
Rita is absolutely gorgeous and to her credit, does suggest a woman with the intellect to handle her position although her role is quite secondary. I've never been particularly impressed with Bruce Cabot before but he is sensational here as a cop so hard he makes many more famous film noir tough-guy movie policemen seem like milquetoast. Marc Lawrence is very good too but the movie is stolen by Norman Willis as the gang leader. Willis, looking like a tougher Ricardo Cortez and sounding like a scarier Edward G. Robinson, played a ton of henchmen in films during this era (usually in small roles) but I don't think he ever had such a major menacing role to rival his gang leader/businessman here. I'm not quite sure who Richard Fiske plays in this movie, a cop or a crook, his role is quite small despite his billing, but he later became a real-life WWII hero, dying in action in 1944. This Columbia "B" may be long forgotten but it's a remarkably successful venture into Warner Bros. mean streets territory.
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