Homicide detective Mike Conovan investigates the shooting of fellow detective Monigan...who apparrently was moonlighting as guard for a bookie. He finds that all the bookies in town are ... See full summary »
Homicide detective Mike Conovan investigates the shooting of fellow detective Monigan...who apparrently was moonlighting as guard for a bookie. He finds that all the bookies in town are being robbed, most upsetting to the racket bosses who can't get normal police protection. Mike encounters blind alleys and double crosses, and is distracted by his wife's growing disenchantment. Lots of police slang. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Generally entertaining film noir detective film, not private eyes but "Dragnet" like plainclothes police. The Sgt. Friday character is Lieutenant Mike Conovan (Van Johnson) who leads a very complicated life, simultaneously trying to solve the murder of an off-duty police detective while breaking in rookie detective C.C. Gordon (Tom Drake). Despite all this he still has time to listen to his wife Gloria (Arlene Dahl) whine about his job and to have a tame in the line of duty fling with sexy Lili (Gloria de Haven).
The rookie detective character is basically just a excuse to throw a lot of late 40's police jargon into the script and to showcase "Dragnet" style back room police activities. Otherwise the story is nicely paced although little suspense is generated because everything is shown from the point of view of Conovan. So little is revealed about the other characters that the resolution is rather unsatisfying.
"Scene of the Crime" was a transitional film as the genre moved from gangsters and private eyes to actual police departments. The police are portrayed in a very sympathetic light; contending with low pay, disillusionment, pressures from home, and a feeling of not being appreciated.
Although Van Johnson does a decent job in the lead role, he was a poor choice (from both a physical and a acting style perspective) for the role of a cynical and conflicted tough cop. Johnson is much better suited to nice guy roles. Dahl soon gets on your nerves but you never tire of de Haven's Lili.
Then again, what do I know? I'm only a child.
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