The first of the five films where Bill Elliott played a detective lieutenant in the L.A Sheriff's department, Dial Red "O" (the correct title with the number 0 (zero), as on a telephone ... See full summary »
The first of the five films where Bill Elliott played a detective lieutenant in the L.A Sheriff's department, Dial Red "O" (the correct title with the number 0 (zero), as on a telephone dial, shown in ") opens with war-torn veteran Ralph Wyatt getting word that his wife is divorcing him, and he flees the psychiatric ward of the veteran's hospital, wanting to talk to her. His escape touches off an all-out manhunt, led by Lieutenant Andy Flynn of the sheriff's department. Wyatt's wife, Connie is having an affair with Norman Roper, a judo expert in Wyatt's old Marine unit. When Roper refuses to divorce his own wife (Regina Gibson) to marry Connie, they have a violent quarrel in Connie's apartment. Roper kills Connie and incriminates Wyatt, who is arrested and held on suspicion of homicide. Convinced that Roper is the real murderer, Wyatt escapes from his cell in the Hollywood Sheriff's office, and goes to Roper's home. Lt. Flynn has discovered evidence pointing to Roper as the killer, ... Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Det. Bill Elliott is after veteran Keith Larsen whose wife has been murdered
"Dial Red-0" is one of the 5 low-budget entries that Bill Elliott, better known as Wild Bill from his westerns, made for Allied Artists, each running about one hour. So, why do we fans make such a fuss over these little films? This one is a genuine film noir, with Keith Larsen caught in a predicament. It looks as if he's killed his wife because she served divorce papers on him while he was in a psychiatric facility for veterans from which he escaped. His friend, Paul Picerni, of Untouchables fame, is not exactly his friend. The noir photography suits this story very well, Larsen's escape, his wandering on streets, his final confrontation. We're always happy to find noirs, even little ones, and that accounts for some of the applause.
There's more. The story is actually very tightly-knit, well-constructed, and logical with each step falling into place. This is a very big plus. It's as fresh today as when it was made.
Bill Elliott plays a sheriff, and his character is very interesting. He's a straight arrow, but with a lot of sense and some compassion and understanding. He's not a brutal or corrupt kind of cop. He misses very little. He asks acute and probing questions. He takes command when he has to. He figures things out logically based on the information he gathers. And of course Elliott has a presence and a deep voice.
The supporting players rise to the occasion. Helene Stanley as the once-wife of Larsen does a nice turn in this one.
I've seen this two or three times, last night included. It's easy to take and absorbing. How many movies are there where you have problems with it or even stop looking? It's nice to find a little gem that holds up, even if it is minor. It has its own character. Elliott's cop pulls it together by his firm and straight ahead manner.
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