Rogue Cop (1954) - News Poster

(1954)

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Hell on Frisco Bay

I tell you it’s rough out there on Frisco Bay, especially when you say the word ‘Frisco’ within earshot of a proud San Francisco native. This Alan Ladd racketeering tale could have been written twenty years earlier, but it has Warner Color and the early, extra-wide iteration of the new movie attraction CinemaScope.

Hell on Frisco Bay

Blu-ray

Warner Archive Collection

1955 / Color / 2:55 widescreen Academy / 98 min. / Street Date , 2017 / available through the WBshop / 21.99

Starring: Alan Ladd, Edward G. Robinson, Joanne Dru, William Demarest, Paul Stewart, Perry Lopez, Fay Wray, Nestor Paiva, Willis Bouchey, Anthony Caruso, Tina Carver, Rod(ney) Taylor, Jayne Mansfield, Mae Marsh, Tito Vuolo.

Cinematography: John F. Seitz

Film Editor: Folmar Blangsted

Stunts: Paul Baxley

Original Music: Max Steiner

Written by Martin Rackin, Sydney Boehm from a book by William P. McGivern

Produced by George C. Berttholon, Alan Ladd

Directed by Frank Tuttle

Alan Ladd had always been
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Shield for Murder

Dirty cops were a movie vogue in 1954, and Edmond O'Brien scores as a real dastard in this overachieving United Artists thriller. Dreamboat starlet Marla English is the reason O'Brien's detective kills for cash, and then keeps killing to stay ahead of his colleagues. And all to buy a crummy house in the suburbs -- this man needs career counseling. Shield for Murder Blu-ray Kl Studio Classics 1954 / B&W / 1:75 widescreen / 82 min. / Street Date June 21, 2016 / available through Kino Lorber / 29.95 Starring Edmond O'Brien, Marla English, John Agar, Emile Meyer, Carolyn Jones, Claude Akins, Herbert Butterfield, Hugh Sanders, William Schallert, Robert Bray, Richard Deacon, David Hughes, Gregg Martell, Stafford Repp, Vito Scotti. Cinematography Gordon Avil Film Editor John F. Schreyer Original Music Paul Dunlap Written by Richard Alan Simmons, John C. Higgins from the novel by William P. McGivern <Produced by Aubrey Schenck, (Howard W. Koch) Directed by Edmond O'Brien, Howard W. Koch

Reviewed by Glenn Erickson

Here's the kind of '50s movie we love, an ambitious, modest crime picture that for its time had an edge. In the 1950s our country was as blind to the true extent of police corruption as it was to organized crime. Movies about bad cops adhered to the 'bad apple' concept: it's only crooked individuals that we need to watch out for, never the institutions around them. Thanks to films noir, crooked cops were no longer a film rarity, even though the Production Code made movies like The Asphalt Jungle insert compensatory scenes paying lip service to the status quo: an imperfect police force is better than none. United Artists in the 1950s helped star talent make the jump to independent production, with the prime success stories being Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas. But the distribution company also funded proven producers capable of putting out smaller bread 'n' butter movies that could prosper if costs were kept down. Edward Small, Victor Saville, Levy-Gardner-Laven. Aubrey Schenck and Howard C. Koch produced as a team, and for 1954's Shield for Murder Koch co-directed, sharing credit with the film's star, Edmond O'Brien. The show is a smart production all the way, a modestly budgeted 'B' with 'A' ambitions. O'Brien was an industry go-getter trying to channel his considerable talent in new directions. His leading man days were fading but he was in demand for parts in major films like The Barefoot Contessa. The producers took care with their story too. Writers Richard Alan Simmons and John C. Higgins had solid crime movie credits. Author William P. McGivern wrote the novel behind Fritz Lang's The Big Heat as well as Rogue Cop and Odds Against Tomorrow. All of McGivern's stories involve crooked policemen or police corruption. Shield for Murder doesn't tiptoe around its subject matter. Dirty cop Detective Lt. Barney Nolan (O'Brien) kills a hoodlum in an alley to steal $25,000 of mob money. His precinct boss Captain Gunnarson (Emile Meyer) accepts Barney's version of events and the Asst. D.A. (William Schallert) takes the shooting as an open and shut case. Crime reporter Cabot (Herbert Butterfield) has his doubts, and lectures the squad room about the abuse of police power. Barney manages to placate mob boss Packy Reed (Hugh Sanders), but two hoods continue to shadow him. Barney's plan for the money was to buy a new house and escape the rat race with his girlfriend, nightclub cashier Patty Winters (Marla English). But a problem surfaces in the elderly deaf mute Ernst Sternmueller (David Hughes), a witness to the shooting. Barney realizes that his only way forward is to kill the old man before he can tell all to Det. Mark Brewster (John Agar), Barney's closest friend. Once again one of society's Good Guys takes a bite of the forbidden apple and tries to buck the system. Shield for Murder posits an logical but twisted course of action for a weary defender of the law who wants out. Barney long ago gave up trying to do anything about the crooks he can't touch. The fat cat Packy Reed makes the big money, and all Barney wants is his share. Barney's vision of The American Dream is just the middle-class ideal, the desirable Patty Winters and a modest tract home. He's picked it out - it sits partway up a hill in a new Los Angeles development, just finished and already furnished. Then the unexpected witness shows up and everything begins to unravel; Barney loses control one step at a time. He beats a mob thug (Claude Akins) half to death in front of witnesses. When his pal Mark Brewster figures out the truth, Barney has to use a lot of his money to arrange a getaway. More mob trouble leads to a shoot-out in a high school gym. The idea may have been for the star O'Brien to coach actors John Agar and Marla English to better performances. Agar is slightly more natural than usual, but still not very good. The gorgeous Ms. English remains sweet and inexpressive. After several unbilled bits, the woman often compared to Elizabeth Taylor was given "introducing" billing on the Shield for Murder billing block. Her best-known role would be as The She-Creature two years later, after which she dropped out to get married. Co-director O'Brien also allows Emile Meyer to go over the top in a scene or two. But the young Carolyn Jones is a standout as a blonde bargirl, more or less expanding on her small part as a human ashtray in the previous year's The Big Heat. Edmond O'Brien is occasionally a little to hyper, but he's excellent at showing stress as the trap closes around the overreaching Barney Nolan. Other United Artists budget crime pictures seem a little tight with the outdoors action -- Vice Squad, Witness to Murder, Without Warning -- but O'Brien and Koch's camera luxuriates in night shoots on the Los Angeles streets. This is one of those Blu-rays that Los Angelenos will want to freeze frame, to try to read the street signs. There is also little downtime wasted in sidebar plot detours. The gunfight in the school gym, next to an Olympic swimming pool, is an action highlight. The show has one enduring sequence. With the force closing in, Barney rushes back to the unfinished house he plans to buy, to recover the loot he's buried next to its foundation. Anybody who lived in Southern California in the '50s and '60s was aware of the massive suburban sprawl underway, a building boom that went on for decades. In 1953 the La Puente hills were so rural they barely served by roads; the movie The War of the Worlds considered it a good place to use a nuclear bomb against invading Martians. By 1975 the unending suburbs had spread from Los Angeles, almost all the way to Pomona. Barney dashes through a new housing development on terraced plots, boxy little houses separated from each other by only a few feet of dirt. There's no landscaping yet. Even in 1954 $25,000 wasn't that much money, so Barney Nolan has sold himself pretty cheaply. Two more latter-day crime pictures would end with ominous metaphors about the oblivion of The American Dream. In 1964's remake of The Killers the cash Lee Marvin kills for only buys him a patch of green lawn in a choice Hollywood Hills neighborhood. The L.A.P.D. puts Marvin out of his misery, and then closes in on another crooked detective in the aptly titled 1965 thriller The Money Trap. The final scene in that movie is priceless: his dreams smashed, crooked cop Glenn Ford sits by his designer swimming pool and waits to be arrested. Considering how well things worked out for Los Angeles police officers, Edmond O'Brien's Barney Nolan seems especially foolish. If Barney had stuck it out for a couple of years, the new deal for the L.A.P.D. would have been much better than a measly 25 grand. By 1958 he'd have his twenty years in. After a retirement beer bash he'd be out on the road pulling a shiny new boat to the Colorado River, like all the other hardworking cops and firemen enjoying their generous pensions. Policemen also had little trouble getting house loans. The joke was that an L.A.P.D. cop might go bad, but none of them could be bribed. O'Brien directed one more feature, took more TV work and settled into character parts for Jack Webb, Frank Tashlin, John Ford, John Frankenheimer and finally Sam Peckinpah in The Wild Bunch, where he was almost unrecognizable. Howard W. Koch slowed down as a director but became a busy producer, working with Frank Sinatra for several years. He eventually co-produced Airplane! The Kl Studio Classics Blu-ray of Shield for Murder is a good-looking B&W scan, framed at a confirmed-as-correct 1:75 aspect ratio. The picture is sharp and detailed, and the sound is in fine shape. The package art duplicates the film's original no-class sell: "Dame-Hungry Killer-Cop Runs Berserk! The first scene also contains one of the more frequently noticed camera flubs in film noir -- a really big boom shadow on a nighttime alley wall. Kino's presentation comes with trailers for this movie, Hidden Fear and He Ran All the Way. On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor, Shield for Murder Blu-ray rates: Movie: Good Video: Very Good Sound: Excellent Supplements: Trailers for Shield for Murder, Hidden Fear, He Ran All the Way Deaf and Hearing Impaired Friendly? N0; Subtitles: None Packaging: Keep case Reviewed: June 7, 2016 (5115murd)

Visit DVD Savant's Main Column Page Glenn Erickson answers most reader mail: dvdsavant@mindspring.com

Text © Copyright 2016 Glenn Erickson
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Cast Your Vote for the Top 10 Best Rogue Cop Movies

See Channing Tatum go rogue this Saturday on Reelz

It's exciting to watch TV shows and movies where the police officers doggedly pursue every lead and put together a by-the-book, airtight case to bring the bad guys to justice. But, it's often far more thrilling to watch the exploits of cops who toss the book out the window and go rogue in pursuit of justice. Sometimes cops go rogue because they work in a corrupt department, but usually they're just guys who know that they can't get the job done by playing by the rules.

What we want to know is which movie has the best rogue cop. Turn on your police scanner, grab a donut and help us choose the movie cops who make going rogue look good. For more rogue-cop action, be sure to watch Son of No One starring Channing Tatum Saturday on Reelz at 8p Et/ 5p Pt.
See full article at ReelzChannel »

Steve Forrest obituary

Hollywood actor best known for his starring role as Lieutenant Dan 'Hondo' Harrelson in the 70s cop series S.W.A.T.

Steve Forrest, who has died aged 87, was a product of the Hollywood studio system, then at its tail end in the 1950s. Although MGM had the handsome, rugged 6ft 3in actor under contract for five years, from 1952 to 1957, they gave him few chances to shine. It was only when he left the studio that Forrest got bigger and better parts in feature films – one of his best performances was as the white brother of Elvis Presley, who plays the son of a Native American mother and a Texas rancher father, in Don Siegel's excellent western Flaming Star (1960) – and he was able to start a long and busy career on television.

In fact, it was on the small screen that Forrest would build his fame, notably in S.W.A.T. (1975-
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Steve Forrest obituary

Hollywood actor best known for his starring role as Lieutenant Dan 'Hondo' Harrelson in the 70s cop series S.W.A.T.

Steve Forrest, who has died aged 87, was a product of the Hollywood studio system, then at its tail end in the 1950s. Although MGM had the handsome, rugged 6ft 3in actor under contract for five years, from 1952 to 1957, they gave him few chances to shine. It was only when he left the studio that Forrest got bigger and better parts in feature films – one of his best performances was as the white brother of Elvis Presley, who plays the son of a Native American mother and a Texas rancher father, in Don Siegel's excellent western Flaming Star (1960) – and he was able to start a long and busy career on television.

In fact, it was on the small screen that Forrest would build his fame, notably in S.W.A.T. (1975-
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Anne Francis obituary

Star of the cult sci-fi movie Forbidden Planet

Anne Francis, who has died of complications of pancreatic cancer aged 80, is now best remembered mainly due to the lyrics "Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet \ Oh-oh at the late night, double-feature, picture show", which were sung over the opening credits of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and for the cult science-fiction movie to which they refer, Forbidden Planet (1956). The only woman in the cast of Forbidden Planet, Francis had a sprightly charm and a wide-eyed child-like innocence as Altaira, the space-age Miranda in the transposition of Shakespeare's The Tempest to a distant planet.

The mini-skirted teenaged daughter of the exiled Dr Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) has never seen any man except her father until a group of Us astronauts, led by Commander John J Adams (Leslie Nielsen), arrive. While never exactly exclaiming "O brave new world that has such people in it!
See full article at The Guardian - TV News »

Anne Francis obituary

Anne Francis obituary
Anne Francis, who has died of complications of pancreatic cancer aged 80, is now best remembered mainly due to the lyrics "Anne Francis stars in Forbidden Planet \ Oh-oh at the late night, double-feature, picture show", which were sung over the opening credits of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and for the cult science-fiction movie to which they refer, Forbidden Planet (1956). The only woman in the cast of Forbidden Planet, Francis had a sprightly charm and a wide-eyed child-like innocence as Altaira, the space-age Miranda in the transposition of Shakespeare's The Tempest to a distant planet.

The mini-skirted teenaged daughter of the exiled Dr Morbius (Walter Pidgeon) has never seen any man except her father until a group of Us astronauts, led by Commander John J Adams (Leslie Nielsen), arrive. While never exactly exclaiming "O brave new world that has such people in it!
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

Clint Eastwood at 80

The actor and director is entering his ninth decade, What accounts for his astonishing professional longevity?

Gallery: 80 years of Clint in 80 pictures

Directors may occasionally be shown respect, perhaps even asked for their autograph, in America, but no one actually likes them. People may admire or envy James Cameron or Steven Spielberg or Francis Ford Coppola or Martin Scorsese, and a significantly smaller group of filmgoers may look forward to Woody Allen's next outing, but they don't have much of an emotional connection with them. This is what makes Clint Eastwood's career so singular.

Because he started out as an actor, and very quickly became an actor that a large segment of the population positively adored, in the same way that they adored Jimmy Cagney and Cary Grant and both Hepburns, Eastwood has long benefited from a personal relationship with the American people that no other living director can even dream of.
See full article at The Guardian - Film News »

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