Joe Sullivan is itching to get out of prison. He's taken the rap for Rick, who owes him $50 Grand. Rick sets up an escape for Joe, knowing that Joe will be caught escaping and be shot or ... See full summary »
Jim McLeod is a hard-nosed and cynical detective. He believes in a strict interpretation of the law and doesn't believe in turning the other cheek. The current object of his zealousness is Karl Schneider, an abortionist responsible for the death of several young women. Schneider's lawyer tells the precinct lieutenant that McLeod has his own personal reasons for going after his client. It turns out that his wife was a patient before they met, although Jim knew nothing of it. His world suddenly turned upside down, McLeod is too late in re-evaluating his priorities. Written by
In some of the close-up shots of McLeod and Schneider in the back of the paddy wagon, McLeod's shadow can be faintly seen on the rear-projection screen showing the street behind them. (Other shadows can also be seen.) See more »
Powerful Kirk Douglas Performance in NYC Precinct Drama
Adapted from a stage play by Sidney Kingsley, "Detective Story" depicts a day at a New York police precinct in the early 1950's. The film resembles a feature-length episode of "Barney Miller" without the jokes as the detectives bring various shoplifters, petty thieves, and embezzlers into the station for booking. However, the film does not lack humor as a broad hammy performance by Joseph Wiseman and an only slightly subtler take on a Brooklynese shoplifter by Lee Grant lighten up the often heavily dramatic proceedings.
The central character, Detective Jim McLeod, is an unforgiving, by-the-book veteran, who sees the world in black and white, good versus evil, with no shades of gray in between. Kirk Douglas brings McLeod to life in one of his finest, most powerful performances. Douglas's Oscar-caliber work is matched by a fragile, deeply felt performance by Eleanor Parker as McLeod's wife, who harbors a secret from her past that, unknown to either McLeod or his wife, connects back to an on-going police case. The scenes between Douglas and Parker are among the best in the film.
Veteran director William Wyler retains most of the play's action in the central precinct room and only occasionally breaks from the claustrophobic set for a breather. Lee Garmes photographed "Detective Story" in crisp black and white, and some of the shots of New York City could be framed and hung on a wall. With a cast of top character players that includes Gladys George, William Bendix, Frank Faylen, and George Macready, the multi-character, multi-plotted "Detective Story" is a powerful, well-acted film that somehow is less often seen than its quality warrants.
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