Johnny Damico botches a murder case and is suspended from the force. In reality, he is put undercover to identify the mysterious boss of the NY waterfront who has murdered everyone in his way. Will Johnny be next in line?
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
The movie is actually a spin-off from a popular 1950's TV series. The Lineup (1954) ran on CBS from 1954 to 1960. It was a Dragnet (1951)-style "police procedural" drama, set in San Francisco, but filmed on Hollywood sound stages. Warner Anderson and Marshall Reed reprise their TV show roles in the movie, as Lt. Ben Guthrie and Inspector Fred Ascher. However, Tom Tully, who played Inspector Matt Grebb, Guthrie's partner on the TV show, was not available to make the movie. He was replaced by Emile Meyer as Inspector Al Quine. See more »
The dark colored (black) 1957 Dodge sedan used by the police changes back and forth between the high end Custom Royal model and the low end Coronet model. See more »
When you live outside the law, you have to eliminate dishonesty.
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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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