Detective Chris Kelvaney has a brother, Eddie, who also is a policeman. He witnessed a murderer running away from the scene of the crime. Chris has contacts with the gangster Beaumonte, who is willing to pay $15,000 if Eddie withdraws his testimony. But Eddie is an honorable cop and refuses. Beaumonte makes sure that Eddie is killed. After his death, Kelvaney starts to track down his brother's killer.Written by
When Father Ahearn comes to the police station to talk to Chris, he puts his right hand on Chris's left shoulder in the over-the-shoulder shot, but the cut to the master reveals his left hand on Chris's right shoulder. See more »
Robert Taylor rises to a personal best in grim look at urban corruption in mid-20th century America
By 1954, the noir cycle had already sounded most of its dissonant themes. Audiences had seen the crooked cop with the straight-arrow younger brother (The Man Who Cheated Himself); the shantoozie with a past (Gilda, Dead Reckoning, The Last Crooked Mile); the slick mobster beyond the reach of the law with his alcoholic, trophy mistress (Key Largo, Railroaded,The Big Heat); the street-savvy old jane who passes on scuttlebutt for a price (Pickup on South Street). But, as Roy Rowland's Rogue Cop demonstrates, there were still changes to be rung on those themes, jazzed up with fresh casting and pithy writing.
Here, the cop gone sour isn't a homicidal brute like Edmond O'Brien in the same year's Shield For Murder (both movies were adapted from books by William McGivern, as was Fritz Lang's The Big Heat). He's dapper, laid-back Robert Taylor, known by his `brothers' on the force to be on the take but given a wide berth despite it (it's the thin blue line's equivalent of omertà).
When his younger brother Steve Forrest, also a policeman, identifies a connected hit-man, Taylor receives a summons from his paymaster, crime boss George Raft. Either Forrest recants his testimony, in return for a $15-grand payoff, or he'll be killed (the accused knows too much and might sing if convicted). Upon delivering the ultimatum, Taylor gets rebuffed by Forrest; he then tries to blackmail his brother's fiancée Janet Leigh, a nightclub singer, into trying to change his mind. Taylor doesn't really want Forrest to go bad, he just doesn't want him dead.
But Raft plays tougher than Taylor imagines. Lulling Taylor into thinking he still has time, Raft has Forrest shot in the back. And so the worm turns: Using both Leigh and Raft's discarded moll Anne Francis as his allies, Taylor swears vengeance....
Crisply photographed by John Seitz, Rogue Cop burrows snugly into its rotten urban core a city of dreadful night. With its large and aptly chosen cast, it nonetheless rests squarely on the shoulders of its central character, Taylor, who comes through with the performance of his career. At age 42, he passes muster as a burnt-out cop who's sold out for easy money in this urban jungle, corruption is just another perk passed up only by fools -- but still has the wits and the will to spring a few surprises when cornered.
There's plenty of brutal, even sadistic, action, but Rogue Cop is less an action picture than a character study that Taylor, somewhat surprisingly, manages to pull off. With its siblings The Big Heat and Shield For Murder, Rogue Cop makes up a grim tryptich of big-town America in the mid-20th century.
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