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Detective Story (1951)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 19 May 1952 (Denmark)
On one day in the 21st Precinct squad room, assorted characters form a backdrop for the troubles of hard-nosed Detective Jim McLeod.

Director:

William Wyler

Writers:

Philip Yordan (screenplay), Robert Wyler (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Kirk Douglas ... Det. James McLeod
Eleanor Parker ... Mary McLeod
William Bendix ... Det. Lou Brody
Cathy O'Donnell ... Susan Carmichael
George Macready ... Karl Schneider
Horace McMahon ... Lt. Monaghan
Gladys George ... Miss Hatch
Joseph Wiseman ... Charley Gennini
Lee Grant ... Shoplifter
Gerald Mohr ... Tami Giacoppetti
Frank Faylen ... Det. Gallagher
Craig Hill ... Arthur Kindred
Michael Strong ... Lewis Abbott
Luis Van Rooten Luis Van Rooten ... Joe Feinson
Bert Freed ... Det. Dakis
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Storyline

Jim McLeod is a hard-nosed and cynical detective. He believes in a strict interpretation of the law and doesn't believe in turning the other cheek. The current object of his zealousness is Karl Schneider, an abortionist responsible for the death of several young women. Schneider's lawyer tells the precinct lieutenant that McLeod has his own personal reasons for going after his client. It turns out that his wife was a patient before they met, although Jim knew nothing of it. His world suddenly turned upside down, McLeod is too late in re-evaluating his priorities. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The love story of a man whose wife was more woman than angel!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 May 1952 (Denmark) See more »

Also Known As:

William Wyler's Production of Sidney Kingsley's Detective Story See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

William Wyler engaged Dashiell Hammett to adapt the Sidney Kingsley play for the screen. After three weeks Hammett returned the advance check to Wyler, saying he couldn't do it. At the time Hammett was under scrutiny for his alleged Communist affiliations and was blacklisted. See more »

Goofs

In some of the close-up shots of McLeod and Schneider in the back of the paddy wagon, McLeod's shadow can be faintly seen on the rear-projection screen showing the street behind them. (Other shadows can also be seen.) See more »

Quotes

Detective James McLeod: [leaving the office] Mind if I shave?
Lieutenant Monaghan: Gotta have the last word, don't ya?
See more »

Connections

Featured in True Detective: Maybe Tomorrow (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Marche Funebre In C Minor Op. 72, No. 2
(uncredited)
Music by Frédéric Chopin
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Great vehicle for Kirk Douglas' acting talents
15 November 2009 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

Kirk Douglas has always excelled in roles where he plays the maverick loner, walking the fine line between anger and insanity. Thus his role as Det. Jim McLeod in "Detective Story" is a real showcase for his acting talents. This is not a crime drama in the conventional sense where there is any real action or crime to solve, even though you have a room full of New York City police detectives on screen for just about the whole movie. Instead it is a character study of Jim McLeod, played by Kirk Douglas. McLeod's motivation in his work is not to solve crimes or even protect the innocent. Instead, he is motivated by a desire to root out evil by his definition of the word. Evil is something McLeod claims that anyone can easily spot. McLeod's world view doesn't differentiate between the one-time bad act of a basically good person, such as Arthur Kindred (Craig Hill), a young man who impulsively stole from his employer in a last ditch attempt to impress a girl he believed he loved, versus the misdeeds of a lifetime criminal, such as the homicidal maniac Charlie (Arthur Kindred), that has also been apprehended by the detective squad that same day.

When confronted by a mistake in the past of the person nearest to him, his own wife, McLeod is equally unforgiving. His rage and disgust is so great, you're not sure what bothers him more - the discovery of his wife's past or the failure of his own nose to sniff out the misdeed prior to this. By the time McLeod realizes his own inflexibility and lack of empathy have cost him what he loves the most, it is too late to undo the damage, and this leads to one last tragedy.

This is Douglas in an early fine if not huggable role, and is recommended viewing for that reason alone. William Bendix makes up for the lack of likability in Douglas' character as Detective Lou Brady, who likes to temper the letter of the law with a little humanity. Then there's a very young Lee Grant as a shoplifter who just can't stop babbling. Finally, there's Horace McMahon as Lieutenant Monaghan, head of the detective squad and the kind of boss we'd all like to have.


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