Crime programmer suffers from British lead trying to pass as Yankee
A serviceable police procedural from 1949, Homicide veers from the mildly absorbing to the silly. Its opening shows promise: A drifter just out of the Navy, looking for work as a farm hand, stumbles across a murder in an orange grove. The killers pay him off to testify that he witnessed an accident, then dispose of him too, making it look like he hanged himself in a cheap Los Angeles boarding house (its landlady is Esther Howard, best remembered as Jessie Florian in Murder, My Sweet).
One police detective (Robert Douglas) thinks there's something fishy and, going by a book of matches and a saccharin tablet, takes a leave of absence to pursue his investigation to a desert spa, where the bartender (Robert Alda) suffers from diabetes. A clue! The plot involves an underground wire used by a nationwide gambling syndicate. But Douglas, operating on his own, finds that his cover is burned and his life is in danger....
Homicide's worst misstep is in the casting of its lead. The ostentatiously British Douglas (40 at the time and looking comfortably middle-aged) is passed off as a Canadian to somehow explain his working for the LAPD. A better explanation would be why they hired a detective who's thick as a brick. The most entertaining part of the movie is listening to him try to sling American slang in his brittle B.B.C. accent; it's like watching a movie with subtitles.
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