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The other reviewer did not have anything good to say about this movie. Well, it is cheaply made and obviously, Edward Ulmer didn't have much of a budget. He mostly directed B-movies anyway. However, this was one of his later films and his star was Barbara Payton. Her sad sad life was on the down-swing at the time she did this, her final film. She was only 28 years old and this marked the end of her career which had started only five years earlier. If you watch this film, you will see a very good performance by Barbara Payton. This may not be a true film-noir, but it is a dark, downbeat drama with a great musical score. I believe this is worth 77 minutes of viewing time. Enjoy!
A man's body is found face down in a fireplace, face and fingerprints
charred beyond identification. Clues lead to his mistress, bar singer
Barbara Payton (alas, we get to hear nary a note). Homicide cop Ray Patrick
tracks her to a mountain cabin, but a blizzard forces them to spend a
(chaste) night together, and she starts to get under his skin. On the train
back to Los Angeles, she spots the man who was presumed murdered standing on
a platform; against his better judgement, Patrick joins her on the lam to
uncover the truth -- a confusing pastiche involving her roommate, a double
blackmail scheme, the wrong body and, somehow, ceramic
Of all the directors who started out in European cinema but fled to America, Edgar G. Ulmer worked with the most crippling resources. In Murder Is My Beat, he returns to Detour's depressing terrain of thrown-together fugitives holing up in crummy motels. But instead of the full-tilt, well, savagery of Ann Savage, there's the catatonic passivity of Barbara Payton, a beaten-down, ill-used blonde. (How much of this depends on acting ability is anybody's guess. At this final outpost of her movie career -- five years earlier, she'd been James Cagney's moll in Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye -- Payton had already begun her sad drift toward the demimonde.) Though the story relies too much on explication rather than exposition, its fatalistic inertia keeps the viewer interested but off balance. It's another cheapie noir saved from utter mediocrity by the genuine, if compromised, talents of its director.
Mr. Dean's body is found face down in the fireplace, his features burned beyond recognition. Detectives Patrick (Paul Langton) and Rawley (Robert Shayne) arrest nightclub-singer Eden Lane (Barbara Payton) and she is convicted of the crime. On the way to prison, Eden sees a man through the train window, identifying him as the murderer, and Patrick and Eden jump from the train to search for the man. In a series of plot twists, the murderer is found, and Eden and Patrick are reunited. Directer Edgar G. Ulmer uses flashbacks and elliptical editing to good effect, but the film lacks any strong visual or narrative center. Barbara Peyton delivers a great performance as the ambiguous, mysterious femme-fatale. While still of some interest, Murder is My Beat lacks the power and grim vision of Ulmer's bleak gem, Detour.
A detective chases down an accused murderess, but en route to prison he begins to have his doubts. Although another ultra-low-budget (including some of the shoddiest rear projection work I've ever seen) noir from Ulmer, early hopes that this might be another DETOUR were dashed. Like RUTHLESS, it's something of a disappointment. For the first half it seems to be going somewhere, but then it loses traction and meanders towards an unsatisfying conclusion. However, Ulmer pulls off a few terrific moments (especially those regarding trains), and I do think the first half is quite compelling. Paul Langton makes for a good leading man, with something of a Jean Gabin quality. More notably, this is the final appearance of the tragic Barbara Payton, whose work I've previously praised in TRAPPED and KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE. Her melancholy, passive performance here is pretty much the polar opposite of Ann Savage, but her vulnerability is an asset. I need to check out more of her films. The film definitely leaves something to be desired, but it has some charm and talent in it.
This is no masterpiece but is a modestly entertaining crime movie...not "noir" by any stretch either but the performances from a good group of "B" players are not bad, and anyway you don't get too much chance to see Barbara Payton in movies. Just don't expect any competition for The Big Heat or The Maltese Falcon and you should have a good time!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Murder Is My Beat" (1955), a low-budget film noir produced by Allied
Artists, is a crime mystery story. Director Ulmer gave it a low-key
style that intensifies the frustrations communicated to us felt by its
two main players, the detective Paul Langton and his quarry and then
lover, Barbara Payton.
A man is found burned beyond recognition in an apartment. Suspicion falls upon Barbara Payton who has left town hurriedly. Langton tracks her to a snowbound lodge. After a fast trial, she is convicted. He has his doubts that she's guilty. He's assigned to guard her on the train to prison. Along the way, she sees the man she was supposed to have killed. Langton decides not to do his job, but to take her off the train and look for the man. They stop in the closest small town. There he gets a break. He sees Payton's roommate, the tough Tracey Roberts, whom he had interviewed earlier.
There should be no doubt that this is a genuine noir, even though it lacks the heavily-shadowed photography that was prevalent in most noir of the classic era. Many factors make it noir, chiefly the story and the way in which it is told. The story is told in flashback with voice-over narration by Langton, up to the point where we are in the present. At that point, Langton and Robert Shayne work together to resolve the case. Langton's position is highly uncertain, and he is off balance throughout the story. Barbara Peyton is a femme fatale, not one who intends to bring evil upon Langton, but in the classic definition, as a woman who is ambiguous and who leads Langton into a dangerous situation. Langton feels trapped by his belief in Payton's innocence and the conflict it creates with his duty as a police detective. Langton is almost a good cop gone bad, saved only by the fact that he correctly sized up Payton as innocent and by solving the case with Shayne. However, he still loses his job. The resolution of the case involves a number of crimes, including blackmail and one more murder. It involves small town characters who are not the outwardly respectable church-goers they appear to be.
The story is quite tight. It does not rely on coincidences, as one external review would have us believe. The connecting links go by quickly and may be missed. One of these is a statuette that was used to knock out the murdered man at the outset. Langton sees one of these in the hotel lobby of the small town, but that is not unusual since they are manufactured nearby. Since his leads have dwindled, it makes sense that he might look deeper into this connection with the murdered man.
The even tone of the film in the face of its off-balance characters adds to the overall feeling that we are in the noir world where events can suddenly throw a person into a 180 degree switch of situation. Payton finds herself convicted of murder. Langton finds himself in love with and believing a convicted murderess. He becomes a fugitive. His frustration is palpable.
I like this film and I've watched it several times.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The best film noir involves a sap of a man who is willing to give up
his career and risk everything including his life just because of the
femme fatale who may or may not be a killer, a crook or a tramp. Film
historians explain that the vixens of "Double Indemnity", "Out of the
Past" and "Detour" were able to destroy their men much like the vamps
of the silent era through the promise of the best sex of their life.
That is the case of "Murder is My Beat" where a detective gets all the
evidence to arrest a blonde vixen for murder, follows her through the
snowy wilderness, gets her on the train to take her back, and bam!, is
all of a sudden under her spell and willing to risk everything because
she claims that she has seen the supposed murder victim standing
outside of the train on a station platform. A lie or her conscience
playing tricks on her? That remains to be seen.
A typical film noir narration moves the plot along and while this is definitely a cliché of these types of films, in this case, it works wonders. Paul Langton is both hero and narrator, telling his story as he tries to reason as to why he believed that the blonde and buxom cabaret singer Barbara Payton was innocent of the murder he has been collecting evidence on against her. Payton leaves little to the imagination in her tight sweater as Langton basically bursts in on her in the snow-covered cabin. He barely missed walking over the roof of it until he noticed a chimney sticking up out of nowhere. She looks pretty cozy there in spite of the fact that there's probably 10 feet of snow outside threatening to block her in for the winter.
As directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, this is one of his lesser known classics (which includes film noir sleepers like "Detour" and "Ruthless"), and there is wonder as to why newer filmmakers have discovered his work to be artistically genius. What seems at first like a generic film noir as that era was winding down is actually a great find in itself, with tight editing, crisp dialog and characters you never know what side of moralistic laws they are on. That keeps you guessing all the way through and that is what great film noir is all about.
Murder is My Beat (1955)
Director Edgar Ulmer is the one reason you might think of seeing this movie, a creaky story told fairly well. But really there's nothing redeeming about it all. The acting is fine, the filming routine, and the plot so unbelievable you just wonder how they heck they thought it was worth it in the first place.
Well, that's unfair, because it probably looks good on paper. It's the story of a murder squad detective who gets a late call and starts to investigate. This leads to a crazy but fun tromp from L.A. to the mountains in a snowstorm, where he meets the apparent perp and falls in love with her. So now all the rules of being a cop are out the window, and that's the part you have to accept (even when he gets his boss to throw his rules out the window later in the movie).
There probably was an attempt to look at the psychology of a really good cop who suddenly has doubts about himself (because he thinks he made the huge mistake assuming the girl was guilty). There are people with false identities, a cheesy ceramics factory, and a couple more murders. It adds up to some campy fun, but even as a barrel of laughs it doesn't quite hold up, getting slow at times, or becoming just successful enough to draw you in.
Ulmer is famous for making a lot out of a littleor so he did with the early "The Black Cat" back in 1934 or the legendary "Detour" in 1945. There are too many story problems for him to make this one fly, however, so give this a pass unless you're really a fan of Ulmer, or of the waning years of film noir.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** Given the assignment to bring convicted murderess Eden
Lane, Barbara Payton, to the city lock-up the detective Ray Patrick,
Paul Langton, escorting her takes a powder together Eden after she
supposedly saw the man, Frank Deane, that she was accused of murdering
as she and Patrick were on their way by train back to state prison.
This has Det. Patrick's good friend and boss Capt.Bert Rawley,Robert
Shayne, mad as hell in allowing against his better judgment to have him
escort her knowing that being so drop dead gorgeous Eden can work of
his heartstrings and have him do, like a love sick puppy, anything that
Despite dropping his guard and planning to later drop his pants, in romancing Eden, it turns out that Det. Patrick's believing Eden's story that her murder victim was in fact alive turns out to have some truth to it. Enough truth that the outraged Capt. Rawley gives him an additional 24 hours to find Deane's killer if in fact there was one. What later comes out in the wash is that someone was murdered in all this confusion but it wasn't Dean and the person who murdered him and his accomplice who was later to murder Eden's former roommate Pasty Flint, Tracy Roberts, who turned out to be the real culprits in all this. As for Eden who was facing the San Quentin gas chamber she turned out to be the innocent victim in all this confusing mess!
One of the last films that the beautiful Barbara Payton stared in before she ended up addicted on drugs and turning tricks to support her habit that eventually lead to her untimely death at the age of 39 in 1966. Decent 1950's film noir with Det. Patrick at first not believing Eden's story that Frank Dean was still alive but little by little realizing that she was in fact telling the truth. That to the point where he was willing to not only end up losing his job but ending up behind bars for helping a fugitive from justice escape justice. Justice was indeed served when the real killer or killers blew their cover and ended up behind bars for their crimes. Crimes that turned out to be independent of each other.
This film does no harm to Edgar Ulmer's fame as a great director even if it isn't as great as Detour was.The opening of one detective tracking down the other, and the fistfight that follows leads into an intriguing story told in flashback that begins with a scene of a murdered man face-down on a carpet of an apartment with his face in a fireplace, which turns out to be an important part of the plot. Why was one detective beating up the other? Well, the other had fallen in love with the supposed murderer of the dead man in the apartment, but as he's escorting from her trial to prison on a long train ride, she sees the supposed dead man while looking out the window of the moving train standing on the platform of a station the train had passed by. This has elements of Detour in it, if I remember correctly. In any event, said detective becomes convinced of the possibility of the woman's (Barbara Payton) innocence and they actually jump off the moving train together to get to the bottom of the case. What a brilliant use of the limited funds available to make this movie. But it gets much better as they move closer to the truth, with the owners of a ceramic company (it wasn't Bauer Pottery but it could have been). I couldn't stop watching Murder Is My Beat.
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