38 user 23 critic

The Lineup (1958)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 11 June 1958 (USA)
In San Francisco, a psychopathic gangster and his mentor retrieve heroin packages carried by unsuspecting travelers.



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Cast overview:
Mary LaRoche ...
Larry Warner
Insp. Fred Asher
The Man
Cheryl Callaway ...
Cindy Bradshaw


In San Francisco, two police inspectors are on the case when a rogue taxi driver, with the help of a rogue porter, manages to steal the suitcase of an antiques collector before running down a cop, whose dying gesture is to shoot the cabbie dead. The inspectors discover that a statuette in the suitcase contains heroin. Meanwhile, a psychopathic gangster, his malignant mentor and their dipsomaniac driver have the job of picking up the other heroin shipments, hidden in the luggage of unsuspecting travelers. All goes well until they attempt to retrieve the heroin stuffed in a Japanese doll. A little girl and her lovely young mother have the doll, but when the crooks take possession of it, they find that the heroin has mysteriously vanished. Written by J. Spurlin

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Too Hot ... Too Big .. For TV! See more »


Crime | Drama | Film-Noir


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Release Date:

11 June 1958 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Contrabando  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


At the meeting with Staples, backing out of its berth is the S.S. Hunter Victory. Constructed in 1945 by Kaiser Shipbuilding in Richmond, California, it was one of 534 Victory-class cargo ships. Victory ships were larger and faster than the Liberty-class ships. This was one of 150 named after educational institutions, in this case Hunter College in New York City. In and out of mothballs several times, it participated in the Korean and Vietnam wars before finally being laid up at San Francisco in 1973 and scrapped in Taiwan in 1988. See more »


In the scene where the passengers are disembarking the ship, Staples gives Dancer the address of the couple as "9020 Jackson." Dancer then relays it to his driver, McLain, as "2090 Jackson." McLain then drives to the correct house on 2090 Jackson Street, which was then being used as the headquarters of the California Historical Society. See more »


Sandy McLain: [Referring to Dancer] I knew a guy like him once.
Julian: No, you didn't. There's never been a guy like Dancer. He's a wonderful, pure pathological study. He's a psychopath with no inhibitions.
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References An Affair to Remember (1957) See more »


Polly Wolly Doodle
Song first published Harvard student songbook in 1880.
Heard on calliope in museum
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User Reviews

Beats Dragnet
23 December 2007 | by See all my reviews

Tightly scripted, excitingly staged, and brilliantly acted by Eli Wallach, this is a real sleeper. It could have been just another slice of thick-ear on the order of the Dragnet movie (1954). But thanks to writer Stirling Silliphant, director Don Siegel, and actor Wallach, The Lineup stands as one of the best crime films of the decade.

Someone in production made a key decision to shoot the film entirely on location in San Francisco, and rarely have locations been used more imaginatively then here, from dockside to Nob Hill to the streets and freeways, plus lively entertainment spots. The producers of 1968's Bullit must have viewed this little back-and-whiter several times over, especially the car chase.

Colorless detectives Warner Anderson and Emile Meyer (standing in for Tom Tully of the TV series of the same name) are chasing down psychopathic hit-man Wallach and mentor Robert Keith, who in turn are chasing down bags of smuggled narcotics. Dancer (Wallach) is simply chilling. You never know when that dead-pan stare will turn homicidal, even with little kids. Good thing his sidekick, the literary-inclined Julian (Keith), is there as a restraining force, otherwise the city might be seriously de-populated.

Cult director Siegel keeps things moving without let-up, and even the forces of law and order are kept from stalling the action. My favorite scene is where Dancer goes slowly bonkers at the uncooperative Japanese doll. Watch his restrained courtship manners with the lonely mother (Mary La Roche) come unraveled as he reverts to psychopathic form, while mother and daughter huddle in mounting panic at the man they so trustingly brought home. It's a riveting scene in a film filled with them.

The Line Up is another of those unheralded, minor gems that has stood the test of time, unlike so many of the big-budget cadavers of that year or any year.

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