The Blue Lamp (1950) Poster

(1950)

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8/10
Highly underrated...and an exceptionally realistic thriller.
MartinHafer14 August 2009
It's interesting that the robbery and shooting that is the subject of this movie doesn't even occur until almost 45 minutes into the film. This really isn't a complain, really, but more a statement about how the film was constructed. Instead of a typical linear film with a predictable format, this one is instead a realistic drama that emphasizes the routines and typical police work instead of a single crime. And, once the crime occurs, watching the police work was at times mundane and lacked the pizazz of some films but also made the film excel when it comes to realism. Stylistically, some might call it Noir or Noir Inspired--but the film deliberately avoids the lighting, language and grit of true Noir.

As for the acting, it generally was excellent. The policemen were very good--not overly glamorized or macho--but very believable. So, when the widow receives word that her husband died from his injuries, you feel very touched--he was a "real" person and not just a plot device. In fact, this scene was truly exceptional. The killer, Dirk Bogarde, is in one of his first films and is much better than I would have expected--he was menacing and a truly nasty piece of work! The only negative was Peggy Evans, as Bogarde's girlfriend. First, she was supposed to be 17 but was 25--and looked every bit of 25, if not more. Second, I think the director must have told her to scream incoherently if she didn't know what to do in a particular scene, as she did this a lot--too much, frankly.

Overall, it's a darn good police film. Realism seemed to matter over everything else and it was refreshing to see. In many ways, it reminded me of the American film, NAKED CITY, as the everyday police work and procedure was THE star of the film. Highly underrated and well worth seeing.
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9/10
A post-war British classic
TheLittleSongbird19 August 2017
Classic film, mystery thrillers/crime dramas, the cast in general and seeing Dirk Bogarde pre-stardom was a recipe for greatness. 'The Blue Lamp' is more than great, more like an excellent film.

It is easy to see why 'The Blue Lamp' was considered a classic of the post-war Era, of British cinema and film in general at the time and by those who remember it fondly now. Just as much it was easy to see why it was the most popular British film of its year. Sadly, it is a film that is deserving of more credit nowadays. Despite being as great as it is, 'The Blue Lamp' isn't perfect (but comes close). It is undermined only by two performances that don't make the grade and stick out like a sore thumb compared to the sterling work from the rest of the cast.

One is Jimmy Hanley, who is rather lightweight in his role which is a somewhat dull one to begin with. The other, and more problematic, is Peggy Evans, who is far too histrionic in hers and it becomes irritating, some of it is amateur hour too.

However, nothing can be faulted with everything else. It looks great still, the use of locations are gritty and have a real sense of dread while also being beautifully designed. The lighting is suitably ominous and the cinematography is stylish and every bit as rich in atmosphere. The film is hauntingly scored too and Basil Deardon's direction is taut from the start and never lets go, letting the tension really speak and keeping things at a cracking pace.

'The Blue Lamp' has a tightly structured and thoughtful script, and is interesting for its realistic portrayal of the austere times that pushed people into crime. As well as portraying the police in a way that is of the time but never over-glamourized, trivialised or made to look like fools. The story is always compelling with a clever, if not the most surprising, mystery that delivers on the suspense and tension. The confrontation between Dixon and Riley being unforgettable in its shock value, one of British film history's most shocking.

Evans and Hanley aside, the rest of the cast do sterling work. As good as Jack Warner and Bernard Lee are the film is stolen by an outstanding Dirk Bogarde, it's hard to believe that Riley was a pre-stardom role that put him on the map and to this day it's one of his best, he's never been more chilling than here.

Overall, a post-war British classic, notable for its atmosphere, realism and Bogarde's performance. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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7/10
The Bobbys of Paddington Station
bkoganbing13 November 2012
For those of us on this side of the pond The Blue Lamp is like the striped pole for barbershops only in the United Kingdom it hangs above the entrance to police stations. The Blue Lamp is a story of a pair of helmeted beat cops working out of Paddington Station in London, one a fairly new recruit, the other an old timer thinking of retirement.

The roles are played by Jimmy Hanley and Jack Warner respectively. Hanley was a favored callow juvenile player, doing those roles way past the age he should have is an earnest young officer trying to do his best to make good on the job. Jack Warner who was a music hall performer as well plays the older officer, a kindly veteran who is married to Gladys Henson who both take a parental interest in young Hanley. Their own son had died, most likely in the recent World War. In fact in the shooting on location in London you can see many unpleasant reminders of the war in bombed out buildings, still not repaired or replaced by 1951.

While Hanley is being mentored by Warner, there are a couple of punks played by Dirk Bogarde and Patric Doonan who are busy themselves. They're not taken terribly seriously by really professional criminals. As the film is narrated in talking about wannabes like Bogarde and Doonan it reminded of what John Wayne said in The Shootist that the ones you have to watch out for are the hotheaded amateurs. That's these two in a nutshell.

The Blue Lamp was Bogarde's breakout role and he's charismatic to the nines. He's every young girl's idea of a bad boy they'd like to have a romp with before settling into respectable married life. Such a girl is Peggy Evans who is fascinated by Bogarde and his disrespect for conventional behavior. Look at the home she comes from and you can see why she wants to escape.

The Blue Lamp won the BAFTA award which is the UK equivalent of the Oscar for Best Picture for 1951. It made Dirk Bogarde an enduring star in British cinema and it's a nice tribute to the London Metropolitan Police Force.
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9/10
Those coppers can do nothing right in the eyes of the public!
mark.waltz12 March 2021
Warning: Spoilers
A great social drama that showed the war at home continuing several years after the end of the war around the world. Jack Warner and Jimmy Hanley are terrific as long time beat cops dealing with another day on the beat, one that will not end very well. It's the end of the line for Warner thanks to the hot-headed Dirk Bogarde whose actions will cost Warner his life, just right around the time he was going to retire.

For young Bogarde, his actions aren't one dimensional, and you get to see into the depths of his soul, a troubled young man involved with runaway Peggy Evans who doesn't want to take a job given to her by a social worker and live in a hostel. This takes place in just one day, showing how fast crime can be solved, bringing it to a close before the other cops can mourn one of their own.

The fabulous location footage (taking place in and around Paddington) really gets you onto the streets. This dips into vaudeville houses, hospitals and playgrounds where Hanley keeps getting an answer of "No!" from a little girl who has found the gun Bogarde used. You really feel the squalor of this London district, with plenty of shocking moments that makes this riveting social drama.
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6/10
An Early Influence on Crime Dramas?
gavin69427 February 2013
The daily routine of two London policemen is interrupted by a killer.

So, the description I read was that this film was an influence on later crime stories. I am not entirely sure how. While I enjoyed the film, and it was fun to see some English police in action, I am not sure what was so unique and different about this.

I get that it comes from Ealing Studios, which is one of the less-celebrated British studios (behind Hammer, for one). And Ealing needs more exposure. I also get that it launched the television show "Dixon of Dock Green", that lasted over twenty years (quite a feat all by itself). But we do not celebrate Tracy Ulman for giving us "The Simpsons"...

Heck, I have even heard that this was the 29th most viewed film in the United Kingdom ever, as well as the 10th most popular British film ever. But I am not sure why.
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5/10
The Blue Lamp
jboothmillard3 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I can't remember which part of the film has someone saying what "The Blue Lamp" means, but I stuck with this quite good film, and I was thinking of switching off. Basically Jack Warner as PC George Dixon and Jimmy Hanley as PC Andy Mitchell are on the lookout for two criminals who have murdered an officer, and stolen a couple of things. That is pretty much all I can think of to say about the film, because that is all I remember. I think one main reason I wanted to see this film was because of James Bond's Bernard Lee as Insp. Cherry, he wasn't on often though. Also starring Dirk Bogarde as Tom Riley, Robert Flemyng as Sgt. Roberts, Peggy Evans as Diana Lewis, Patric Doonan as Spud, Bruce Seton as PC Campbell and Meredith Edwards as PC Hughes. Considered to many as a classic, for me, only worth seeing once. It won the BAFTA for Best British Film. Okay!
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9/10
Classic British police drama
Tweekums8 August 2019
This 1950 film shows the changing face of crime in post war London. Gone are the days when criminals followed certain rules and respected the police. Instead there are young up and coming crooks who are quick to resort to violence. The story is centred on veteran copper PC George Dixon and his protégé PC Andy Mitchell and young crooks Tom Riley and Alf Lewis. Their paths first cross as the police investigate a missing seventeen year old girl, Diana Lewis, who is now with Riley. The two crooks rob a jewellery store then later rob the cinema where Diana works. As Riley exits he is confronted by Dixon and shoots him with a revolver. It is soon a murder case and everybody is looking for the killers.

While this film is clearly set in a long gone world the story still feels very real thanks the almost documentary-like way it is told. The film takes its time introducing the various characters and their everyday lives. This also serves to introduce the modern viewer to the different lifestyles and attitudes of the time... I don't imagine many modern films would feature a 'good copper' who wasn't too concerned about a report of a husband beating his wife. When the fatal shooting occurs it manages to be shocking even for viewers that know it happens. The cast is solid; most particularly Jack Warner who impresses as Dixon and a young Dirk Bogarde who is menacing as Riley. Overall I'd say that this is a must see for fans of early post war British cinema or of classic police dramas.
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7/10
Dirk Bogarde's breakthrough role
blanche-216 August 2009
"The Blue Lamp" is a British film told in semidocumentary style about the rise of youth crime in Britain after World War II. It follows a seasoned policeman, Dixon (Jack Warner) and a rookie (Jimmy Hanley) and two young thieves, played by Dirk Bogarde and Patric Doonan. When Dixon is shot while trying to stop a robbery, the police search for the perpetrators. The film shows their painstaking grunt work and questioning, and also how the case dovetails another one, the disappearance of a young woman, Diana Lewis (Peggy Evans, quite possibly one of the worst actresses ever to hit movies).

This was the film that made 28-year-old Dirk Bogarde a star - he plays the cold, desperate and volatile Tom Riley with the great intensity that was to set him apart from other actors. There was no one quite like him in film - movie star handsome and emotionally complex, with what can best be described as a glint of madness in his eyes. He could play just about anything and did. Not satisfied with matinée idol status, he took the lead in the controversial film Victim in 1961 and wrote after its release: "Overnight, the 4000 maniacs who were writing to me stopped." That was fine with him! Very good movie, with excellent performances all around, with the exception of the hysterical, annoying performance by Evans. Jack Warner does a wonderful job as kindly, experienced P.C. Dixon - so wonderful, in fact, that he continued to play the role after the film in a television series.

This is sort of the "Naked City" of London. Very good.
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7/10
Gritty Britsh crime drama.
michaelRokeefe9 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
THE BLUE LAMP is a police story that some say is the future template for the genre. This drama is about the Paddington Green police station with a focus on two Bobbies; one the veteran George Dixon(Jack Wagner)and rookie on the beat, Andy Mitchell(Jimmy Hanley). A mundane routine has Dixon ready to retire and Mitchell eager to make himself a career. A quiet London neighborhood gets a buzz on when two lowlife hoodlums(Dirk Bogard and Patric Doonan)commit murder. The plot and acting are impressive and a fine dedication to the policemen that walk the beat and earn the respect of the people they protect. Other players: Bruce Seaton, Robert Flemyng, Bernard Lee and Peggy Lewis. Filmed entirely in London and directed by Basil Dearden.
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10/10
Not realistic
bevo-136787 April 2020
A "gritty" police drama featuring no car chases, no violence and no swearing. Some story line presumably
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7/10
Mustn't grumble.
hitchcockthelegend8 February 2014
The Blue Lamp is directed by Basil Dearden and written by T.E.B. Clarke. It stars Jack Warner, Jimmy Hanley, Dirk Bogarde, Robert Flemyng and Peggy Evans. Music is by Ernest Irving and cinematography by Gordon Dines.

Andy Mitchell is a new recruit to the London police force, old hand George Dixon takes him under his wing and shows him the ropes. When Dixon is gunned down by a hot headed crook, Mitchell, the force, and the close knit community, all rally round to catch the villain.

What chiefly makes The Blue Lamp a fine watch is being able to witness the good old days of the British Bobby. It was a time when the copper was a feared and reassuring presence on the British streets, they walked the beat so everyone could sleep easy in their beds, help was but merely a whistle away.

In that, this Ealing Studios production does a wonderful job, the essence is perfect, the locale and the dialect used is absolutely spot on, whilst the story is an accomplished piece that brings to notice the sad emergence of trigger happy crooks, a new breed of thug who's discipline quota was zero. It also looks nice, with a film noir sheen presented for the night-time sequences, while Dearden offers up a great action scene and closes the picture down with a tense chase finale at White City Greyhound Stadium.

There's inevitably some staid performances indicative of the time, and it definitely paints the police and surrounding community through rose tinted spectacles, but they are small complaints that ultimately can't stop The Blue Lamp from being a most engaging viewing experience. 7.5/10
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7/10
Strange Watching It Today
Theo Robertson21 September 2005
THE BLUE LAMP is a very famous and popular British film , so popular that it paved the way for an equally famous TV show called DIXON OF DOCK GREEN but it's also a film that hasn't stood the test of time , in fact it's so dated it was satarized in an excellent post modernist teleplay called THE BLACK AND BLUE LAMP in 1988 and after recently seeing this movie I realise that it's a very easy target

First of all is the portrayal of the police . Policemen in the 1950s spent their time taking home lost children , looking for dogs that had run away from their owners and practicing their baritone in the station choir ! Good job the crime rate was so low back then because - just like today - they'd never be able to catch criminals . At least watching THE BLUE LAMP you realise why the cops would never be able to catch crims because they seem to smoke over 100 cigarettes a day , no seriously they do and it's pointed out that PC Mitchell doesn't smoke and that's probably why he's able to sprint after Riley at the end with all the other cops at the station destined to die from lung cancer due to the amount of ciggies they smoke . If you've just given up the weed it's a bad idea to watch this movie

As in so many other movies from this period the " adolescent " characters are played by actors far too old for the roles . Diana Lewis is quoted as being 17 years old on screen but Peggy Evans who plays her is in fact 25 years old and she looks it , and while the ages of Riley and Spud are never mentioned it's inferred they're not older than 21 , but Patric Doonan and Dirk Bogarde are both in their late 20's while the " twenty five year old Pc Mitchell " is played by Jimmy Hanley who was in his early 30s . It's strange but people in those days all look considerably older than the real ages

To give the film its due the climax where Riley finds himself at the stadium being hunted is rather exciting , and " exciting " is not something British films of that era were renowned for . Some people may criticise the idea of dodgy characters going out of their way to help the police but this is logical since the police may return the favour at a later date in not asking too many questions about things falling off the back of lorries .

All in all THE BLUE LAMP is a strange film when watched today . It's certainly not a film for cynics and comes across as being very mawkish and sentimental with almost a fairy tale like air . But it should be remembered that in those days a person being murdered during a crime would make national news headlines while a policeman killed in the line of duty would lead to several days national mourning , and of course in those days the police were - If not popular - certainly far more respected than policeman today could ever hope to be so you have to view this film in the context of when it was made . Ironically enough it's also the first movie to use the word " bastard "
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8/10
The Blue Lamp
Scarecrow-8810 August 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The repercussions of a robbery that goes awry after two "adult delinquents", robbing the check out counter of a coliseum, results in the shooting of a London street copper.

The film shows the time leading up to the robbery, both the veteran "bobby", PC Dixon(Jack Warner), questioning whether or not to retire after many years of service, and how his new green partner, Andy Mitchell(Jimmy Hanley),(..who rents a room from him)helps in that decision. Meanwhile hoodlums, Tom Riley(Dirk Bogarde)and Spud(Patric Doonan)coerce a young woman, Diana Lewis(Peggy Evans), into helping them concoct a sting operation in order to score some easy loot. When Dixon startles Riley, the result is multiple gun shots to the copper's chest. Fleeing the scene of the crime, we watch as the trio fall apart at the seams while Scotland Yard begin their investigation as Dixon attempts, unsuccessfully, to rebound from his injuries. Mitchell might just get a chance to avenge his partner when a series of circumstances implicate the criminals.

Early Ealing Studios picture, directed by Basil Dearden, with an early performance from Dirk Bogarde who's excellent as a cocky, brash heel getting in a lot of hot water as his Tom Riley's jealousy and fear cause a cycle of damaging events leading to a thrilling car and foot chase through London streets, climaxing into a dog-track. We see the investigation and the effects of Dixon's death on the crime-fighters, while Riley and girlfriend Diana's tumultuous relationship tears apart with jealousy towards Spud increasing the ever-growing friction. We see how fate can deal a bad hand as Dixon's contemplating retirement and deciding to remain a cop leads to his doom. And, how Mitchell remains strong with an impressive resolve despite the fact that his partner's murderer remains at large with citizens holding a not-so-fond view(..at times a vocal contempt) of the police. The film does show that the trio of criminals' plan was badly prepared, with them making poor decisions which cost them dearly.

The film is a call to arms in which the police must better prepare themselves for the evolving types of criminals which were appearing from the woodwork and that approaching hoodlums should change for safety's sake.
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6/10
Decent film noir is the British version of "The Naked City"...
Doylenf10 August 2009
There are plenty of good reasons to watch THE BLUE LAMP, but let's face it. Nobody does crime stories of this type better than the film noirs Hollywood was churning out during the '40s, such as THE NAKED CITY. Furthermore, DIRK BOGARDE's brash and cocky punk seems like an effort to make him look like a James Cagney thug with a British accent. It's almost disconcerting to watch him in this sort of tough guy role.

He does have that menacing presence and overall it's a good, crisp performance as the hood who, during a hasty and ill prepared robbery, shoots a copper and spends the rest of the film running away from the law. The sequence that has him turning up at the police station is rather puzzling in way of motivation when he becomes an immediate suspect.

Excellent support from BERNARD LEE, JACK WARNER and PEGGY EVANS helps a good deal, except that Evans' hysterics seem a bit over-the-top at times. Bogarde's restraint plays against her hysterics in an effective way.

Worth seeing, but not the sort of film that one would think deserves a Best Film award from BAFTA. Times have certainly changed and altered perception of crime films such as this one.
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7/10
A very plausible story about tragedy and detection skill.
CinemaSerf5 December 2019
I think a lot of what makes this film resonate, even now 50-odd years later - is the stark fact that back then, the murder of a police officer was still pretty rare and was a crime guaranteed to galvanise both the police and the criminal fraternities alike against the culprit. That all helps to create an authentic scenario in which Dirk Bogarde is super as a petty thief who gets caught up in events that quickly run out of control. Peggy Evans is great, too, as the hysterical girlfriend. Basil Dearden keeps the whole thing tense and engrossing as the net begins to close and we get a gripping finale to this fairly simple film.
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6/10
Paddington Bare
writers_reign11 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
This entry has far more value as social history than as a sentimental melodrama. It was just one of many made shortly after the Second World War that showed London as it was, punctuated by bomb craters and debris and it wouldn't be exaggerating too much to state that the 'human' stories grafted onto this background pre-dated the 'kitchen-sink' movement which took hold - at least under that banner - in the mid-fifties. Here it's very much the mixture as before; the police are all knights in shining armour loving nothing more than setting a trearaway straight with a clip on the ear and some fatherly advice and the villains arrogant and disrespectful, full of themselves. Somewhere along the way Dirk Bogarde robs a jewellers and a cinema, kills a policeman and pays the price. Life goes on. If only it were still that simple. Nostalgia value only.
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"Can You Direct Me To Paddington Station, Please?!"...
azathothpwiggins3 August 2021
In THE BLUE LAMP, we're introduced to veteran police officer PC Dixon (Jack Warner) and rookie PC Mitchell (Jimmy Hanley). They're two likable blokes on the beat.

Meanwhile, a crimewave is underway involving young, ruthless thugs. After a jewelry heist the ruffians show their affinity to violence when they knock out a copper during their escape.

As fate would have it, Dixon and Mitchell are on a collision course with these hoodlums, who have now acquired firearms. Tragedy occurs. Now, Scotland Yard is on the case.

This is fine British crime drama, and another gem from Ealing Studios. The cast is superb, especially Dirk Bogarde as the crazed, desperate Tom Riley. The finale at the dog track is a classic!...
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6/10
A London i remember
malcolmgsw20 September 2005
When the Blue Lamp was released i was around 3 years old.I therefore do remember the London that it shows.To me the film is more interesting in what it reveals about the London of 1950 than the actual story.It shows the Metropolitan Music hall in the Edgware Road.It was in the last few years of its life before the A4 cutting a swathe into London meant that it was demolished for "progress".Music Hall by this time was in its last throes and what was left would be rendered extinct by the arrival of ITV.We see the Colloseium in Harlesden.Every High Street had cinemas like this.If you look carefully you will see that they were showing "Granny Get Your Gun" a 1940 "B" feature with May Robson.So it was probably a second run house.There are the bomb sites.I remember that in certain parts of London,particularly the East End there mere were more such sites than actual buildings.The streets do not have a great deal of traffic as there was little traffic at that time.So a film of some sociological interest
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7/10
What the later, Crime Wave (1954) does for Los Angeles, Blue Lamp does for London
christopher-underwood29 August 2007
Not the most exciting of police thrillers, but it has some good performances, a great car chase and the most amazing 50s London location shooting. What the later, Crime Wave (1954) does for Los Angeles, Blue Lamp does for London. City streets, canal side shots, bomb sites, trolley buses, cobbled streets and more. The film also showcases, Jack Warner, whose role would be reprieved for TV's Dixon of Dock Green shown from the late 50s onward and Dirk Bogarde who would become a matinée idol before becoming an even bigger star. Jimmy Hanley should also be mentioned as he too became something of an institution, in my house anyway, when in the late 50s again, he hosted Jim's Inn. This was little more than an excuse to bring products to the attention of the viewing public without actually advertising them. ' What are these, Jim, any good are they?' Yes, just 15 minutes or so of b/w TV promotion and we sat glued! Ah memories
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8/10
Influential realist post war British Noir!!!
elo-equipamentos26 July 2020
Basil Dearden made this influential post war British noir in 1949, displaying a bombed London with extreme poverty at those post wartime, bringing a realist scenario of a country was in a slowing recovery process of their still shaken economy, in this environment raise up newcomers of juvenile delinquency with low pattern the cold Tom Riley (Dirk Bogarde) and his crook partner Spud (Patric Doonan), in other hand at Paddington area a Police Station has dozens of all kind of policemen as PC George Dixon (jack Warner) dutiful cop about to be retired, after twenty years working at the corporation, he see in a newest PC Andy the shy Mitchell (Jimmy Hanley) who living in a hemmed hostel for youth policemen, George invites him to living at his house, occupying his late son's room (probable dead at War), exposing it in last moment for your wife, whose such fact disagreed her, but when she knows the friendly visitor at once the chemistry erases all concerns, this event came up as predicting the unexpected, when George decides postpone his retirement, sadly an unsuccessful robbery withdraw his life, London's policemen deploying a chase for a cop killer Tom Riley and Spud at London's streets, seems at first look an ordinary production, however it was deeply study of a class daily of decent cops warning, advising, protecting and all regular duties, when the unpredictable comes, when a dysfunctional youth guys committing irreparable fatal mistakes claiming this victims, upper class British Noir!!!!

Resume:

First watch: 2020 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 8
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8/10
Disorganised Crime
JamesHitchcock22 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
During my teenage years in the seventies I was frequently being told by my elders and betters that they didn't know what the younger generation was coming to and that the young people of that era were a bunch of unruly, disrespectful, irresponsible long-haired hooligans. On the evidence of this film, however, it would appear that public concern about juvenile delinquency did not begin in 1970, or even 1960, and that my grandparents' generation regarded their own offspring, the teenagers of the forties and fifties, as a bunch of unruly, disrespectful, irresponsible hooligans. (But not long-haired. Among my father's generation long hair was seen as a sign of effeminacy rather than of hooliganism or rebelliousness).

"The Blue Lamp" was made by Ealing Studios, but it is very different from the comedies which formed their best-known fare at the time. It is a police drama, made in a semi-documentary style complete with voice-over from an invisible narrator. (The title refers to the blue lamps which traditionally hung outside British police stations). It is set in and around the real-life Metropolitan Police station at Paddington Green in West London and follows the activities of a group of (fictitious) police officers, especially the experienced veteran PC George Dixon and the young rookie PC Andy Mitchell. At first their work seems routine enough; their main concern is investigating the disappearance from home of a teenaged girl named Diana Lewis. They discover that Diana is living with her boyfriend Tom Riley, a young hoodlum, but as she is seventeen and has broken no laws, they are unable to compel her to return to live with her parents.

In the second half the film becomes less of a documentary and more of a social realist thriller. Tom and another young criminal rob a local cinema. Dixon, called to the scene, confronts Tom and is gunned down. The film then turns into a tense chase thriller, in which the remaining officers from the station try to hunt down Tom and his accomplice, a hunt which becomes all the more urgent when news reaches them that Dixon has died in hospital. (This development comes as a shock to the audience; the scriptwriter T. E. B. Clarke, himself an ex-policeman, was leading them to believe that the injured man was making good progress).

Although Dixon dies in this film, he was to have a happy afterlife. Five years after the film was made in 1950, he was resurrected as the title character in the TV series "Dixon of Dock Green", played by the same actor, Jack Warner. (The series was not set in Paddington Green but in the fictitious London district of Dock Green, supposedly in the East End). This was to become one of the longest running and most popular programmes on British television, and ran until 1976, by which time Warner was 80 years old! (Even in 1950 he was looking a bit too old to play a police constable). "The Blue Lamp" also inspired another film, "I Believe in You", which was also directed by Basil Dearden and told a similar semi-documentary tale about the work of the Probation Service.

The star of the film is not really Warner, a likable actor but a rather stolid one, but Dirk Bogarde as Tom. The film's thesis is that the main problem facing British society in the late forties and early fifties was not so much organised crime as disorganised crime, perpetrated by angry, disaffected young men whose early lives had been turned upside-down by a war fought between their elders. These men were often more volatile and unpredictable, and therefore more dangerous, than the traditional London underworld who generally avoided using guns because they knew that the justice system would show no mercy to those who killed in the furtherance of crime. (Britain still had the death penalty at this period). Bogarde's Tom Riley is a fine example of this new breed of criminal- a cocky, arrogant and amoral Jack the Lad, consumed by an intense but unfocused anger directed against the world in general, and irrationally convinced of his own superiority and infallibility.

The film was highly popular when first released, and with good reason; Bogarde is excellent and the thriller elements generate considerable tension. Some at the time, however, criticised it (a criticism which has continued to be made down the years) for presenting a too idealised image of the police as white knights and a too schematic "cops good, robbers bad" viewpoint. Such a moral structure was by no means uncommon at this period- it can also be found, for example, in the American film noir "White Heat" from the late forties. I do wonder, however, if the "Blue Lamp" view of law enforcement was responsible for a real-life miscarriage of justice.

In 1952 two teenagers, Derek Bentley and Christopher Craig, set out to burgle a warehouse in Croydon. They were confronted by a police officer, Sidney Miles, who was shot dead. Craig, who actually fired the fatal shot, was too young to face the death penalty, but his older accomplice Bentley was hanged even though he was mentally handicapped and even though the evidence that he had incited Craig to shoot was disputed and ambiguous. There were a number of similarities between this real-life crime and the fictional one depicted in "The Blue Lamp" two years earlier, and I have wondered whether these might have misled the jury into seeing Bentley- a misguided simpleton- as a slightly younger version of the vicious killer Tom Riley. We will never know the answer to this question for sure, but I feel the possibility cannot be ruled out. 8/10
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7/10
Dearden's crime drama harks back to a bygone era when the two sides of the law are still distinctively black or white
lasttimeisaw23 November 2017
A non-comedy Ealing Studio production dedicated to the men and women in the police service of Britain, Basil Dearden's THE BLUE LAMP, whose title is a metonymy of police station, vehemently blends its realism milieu, the increase of post-war crime, with defiantly positive vibes around a virtuous constabulary, the constituents of their vocation runs the gamut from a nattering lady's lost dog to a deadly gun-point encounter with a reckless misfit Tom Riley (Bogarde).

PC George Dixon (Warner) is a veteran copper on the verge of retirement, but accepts to stay on his beat for an additional 5 more years with alacrity. In spite of Ms. Dixon's (Henson) initial reluctance, he offers lodging to a newly recruited PC Andy Mitchell (Hanley), who is exactly the same age of his son they lost in the war, and the trio actually gets along pleasantly and forms an ersatz family. On the same beat, Tom Riley and his partner-in-crime Spud (Doonan) are the peace- disturbing pests, from home-invasion, jewelry robbery to a stick-up in a cinema's wicket goes terribly wrong, George, a foolhardy hero who doesn't even bat an eyelid in the face of a loaded revolver, is shot by Tom and later dead in the hospital. There is an affecting naiveté in George's attempt of talking Tom out of his transgression, which we couldn't bear thinking about nowadays, that is how far our society have been degraded since then.

The rest of the story is to track down the perpetrator unbeknownst to the police through an assiduous and judicious procedural, mostly predicated on the lead of Tom's girlfriend Diana Lewis (a 29-year-old Peggy Evans in a full-on victim mode of cluelessness, trepidation and hysteria, but she simply cannot pass off as a 17-year-older, no matter how much silver-screen glamour is vamped up on her), and galvanized by Tom's unexpectedly bold move, walking into the police station in broad daylight and feigning innocence through his wiles, the film pumps up its tension in a blistering car-chasing money shot in a suspiciously empty London, and slates its spectacular finale inside a jam-packed stadium where a dog race is in full swing and semaphore is signaled on the strength of a collective sense poetic justice, the film is rounded off with a slam-dunk fulfillment.

Jack Warner and Jimmy Hanley both give straight-up appearances of ordinary coppers with a heart, Robert Flemyng as Police Sgt. Roberts and Bernard Lee as Inspector Cherry are the brains in the work, both can actualize a glint of reactionary cognizance with nicety, but indeed, it is Dirk Bogarde's dodgy villain gets the biggest canvas to run away with all our attention and admiration through his insidious beguilement. For what it is worth, THE BLUE LAMP is a solid testimony of Dearden's cinematic aptitude and craftsmanship and harks back to a bygone era when the two sides of the law are still distinctively black or white.
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7/10
Old Bill, Young Kill
Lejink10 May 2021
The number one British box-office movie of its year was this Ealing drama (they weren't all comedies) set in post-war London and centring on the killing of a popular policeman by a spivvy young hoodlum. The film however is more than that, combining close observation of police operations especially in pursuit of a cop-killer but also the general public going about their everyday lives.

For the first half of the film we're introduced to the two strands of the narrative which will intertwine at the turning point, which is obviously the shooting of Jack Warner's in-with-the-bricks policeman, P. C. Dixon, here of Paddington Green but later resurrected and stationed at Dock Green in the long-running BBC TV Show, Firstly, we get to know the experienced Dixon, happily married to his matronly wife, a regular bobby on the beat, liked and respected by his colleagues. He's paired with young new boy P. C. Andy Mitchell, played by Jimmy Hanley and even offers him digs with him and his missus. We see the police going about their everyday duties, not always respected by the public they serve but in the main dispensing common sense as they go. Behind the scenes, we see the coppers off-duty, even conducting choir-practice, the point being to show they're not much different from the men and women on the street.

This is contrasted with the entry of Dirk Bogarde as Tom Riley, a good-looking but nasty young hoodlum, who with his mate Patric Doonan as Spud, carries out robberies in the neighbourhood. Also in tow with him is Riley's new girlfriend, runaway teenager Diana, played by Peggy Evans.

The film dramatically changes the second Riley shoots down Dixon as the police go through their paces to track down the cop-killer and soon end up on Riley's trail, leading to a surprisingly exciting car-chase and indeed car-crash through the streets of London.

The film stops short of explaining why Bogarde's character is the way he is and also doesn't show his subsequent trial and inevitable death by hanging, the director's intent no doubt being to focus on the human drama rather than run deeper into either social commentary or courtroom drama. While some of the situations and characters depicted might seem parochial looking back over seventy years ago, director Deardon does a very good job mixing documentary-like technique with dramatic action in creating a film which clearly resonated with its contemporary audience.

Bogarde shines as the nasty piece of work Riley in his breakthrough role while you can already see Warner stepping into the slippers of the role which would define his career. Evans' acting, on the other hand is overly histrionic, but the ill-fated Doonan is better as Bogarde's unwilling accomplice. Bernard Lee, later M in the Connery-era Bond movies, demonstrates his facility in playing authority figures as Inspector Cherry.

Whilst in the shadow of say, "Brighton Rock" in its portrayal of petty crime and the wider poor working class folk (notice how distrusting the young children are of the police), with its use of real-life locations, notably the climactic scenes at White City Stadium and recognisable characters in believable situations, "The Blue Lamp" is a commendable, skilfully made, very British, crime thriller, still worth watching today.
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10/10
Hunt for a "cop killer"
kidboots28 July 2008
Warning: Spoilers
After the War and during the 50s British cinema attempted to bring a realism to the screen. I think the aim of "The Blue Lamp" was to show the police force as a cohesive group that would look after you and take care of things after the chaos of the war. Starting with a thrilling car chase and just a police siren over the credits, it heralded a new era in British drama.

After playing Joe Huggett in a series of working class comedies, Jack Warner was probably pleased to play P.C. Dixon in "The Blue Lamp". He didn't realize that the character would haunt him to his death. "Dixon of Dock Green" TV series ran from 1955 to 1976. Even though Dixon's death was the pivotal part in "The Blue Lamp" the character was bought back for his own TV show.

Dirk Bogarde hit the jackpot with his role as the punk Tommy and really captured the public's fancy.

Tommy (Bogarde) and Spud rob a jewelry store. They are young punks, fuelled by the gangster films they see at the cinemas. They are helped by Diana Lewis (Peggy Evans) a young girl who has run away from home to escape the drudgery of poverty. The boys rob the local cinema, where she works and when Dixon (Jack Warner) confronts them he is shot and later dies of his wounds. The whole of New Scotland Yard are out in force to get the "cop killer".

The last half of the film is about the mental disintegration of Tommy. The chase which starts in a car, follows on foot across wasteground and railway tracks, and finishes at a grey hound meet is exciting. The way they catch Tommy using police tactics and bookie sign language is very interesting.

Highly recommended.
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8/10
Seminal British Film Noir.
ianlouisiana5 November 2005
Warning: Spoilers
"The Blue Lamp" is a Cockney Epic.Like"Dance Hall"and"It always rains on Sundays"films that drew on London working-class life for their inspiration and the working-class for their audience. Although Ealing is best remembered for its comedies it was perfectly capable of making "issue" pictures,and in "The Blue Lamp" the issue was the increase of violent crime since the second world war which had ended five years previously. It is probable that the catalyst was the De Antiquis murder in 1948 when a gang robbing a Soho jeweller shot a motor-cyclist who tried to intervene. (In the opening sequence a shot of a newspaper reporting this killing is prominent). Firearms brought home as souvenirs by returning servicemen found their way into the hands of petty criminals many of whom had been taught to kill by the government and could not see any difference between killing the enemy and killing a bank clerk. Despite a vigorously pursued policy of corporal and capital punishment,crime rose to what was then an all-time high. It is against this background that "The Blue Lamp" must be considered.

It was one of the last films to show "posh"policemen. The characters played by Anthony Steele and William Mervyn are clearly upper middle class,Mervyn's Chief Inspector probably a relic from the discredited Trenchard Scheme whereby the Metropolitan Police recruited it's own officer class in short-sighted (and short-lived)admiration for the military. George Dixon has been at Paddington for 25 years and is on the brink of retirement.His local knowledge is unrivalled,his position in society and his right to exercise power unquestioned.This type of officer and his brand of policing has been consigned to history. Rather like a Western set at the dawn of the 20th century,"The Blue Lamp"in hindsight appears as a picture of a way of life about to be overtaken by progress.It is a world of bombsites,spivs,milk bars and barrow boys.

A trolleybus trundles along streets sparse with traffic. Tessie O'Shea is entertaining a music hall audience many of whom could probably remember Marie Lloyd appearing in the same theatre.

The new age is represented by ruthless thug Mr Dirk Bogarde.Cunning and cruel,he is nobody's mug.In a scene that still has the power to disturb he shoots Pc Dixon in cold blood at the scene of a robbery.When he suspects his girl friend is about to turn him in he strangles her. The rest of the film is concerned with the police hunt for the killer who will surely hang for his crimes.

It is hopelessly old-fashioned in it's unquestioning support for the police.Nobody is counselled,no community representatives are consulted by senior officers leading the hunt and Mr Bogarde's human rights are clearly abused when 2 or 3 rather angry policemen cart him off at the end. Nonetheless "The Blue Lamp" is essential viewing for anybody interested in the development of what might be called English film noir. Many of the exteriors seem to presage the cinema verite movement and it was very influential in the development of the TV cop show from "Dixon of Dock Green" through to "Z Cars" and ultimately "The Bill" although I doubt that George Dixon would recognise the latter as being about the same job unless he had been smoking something very naughty in that pipe of his. Mr Jack Warner plays George Dixon as the archetypal London bobby,a figure who may have never actually existed but who we have felt compelled to invent to invoke a more innocent age when a clip round the ear was rather more effective than an ASBO. Policemen have never been angels,but at least in 1950 they were portrayed as decent ordinary men not violent psychopaths.In those days the villains were the bad guys.Moral equivalence,the "No Blame "culture and all the "isms" that are stunting our society were not even a gleam in a Social Worker's eye.
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