1951 (November 29, 2022)
Paramount Pictures (Kino Lorber Studio Classics)
- Movie/Show Rating: A
- Video grade: A
- sound grade: A
- Grade Extras: B+
Police novel He tackles a taboo subject head-on in a gritty portrait of a brutal, tough-as-nails New York City cop with an unwavering hatred of lawbreakers. Adapted from Sidney Kingsley’s play, the film features a collection of characters working or passing through a Manhattan police station.
Detective Jim McLeod (Kirk Douglas) enjoys locking up bad guys. Her contempt for lawbreakers was rooted in childhood, when her criminal father beat her mother and drove her insane. McLeod has a particular loathing for alleged abortionist Karl Schneider (George Macready), indicted again after a previous arrest and assault by McLeod. Alone with his wife, Mary (Eleanor Parker), McLeod shows the gentle side of him, as they discuss his future and starting a family.
Schneider’s lawyer, Endicott Sims (Warner Anderson), is about to make Schneider turn himself in, but wants assurances that McLeod won’t mistreat him. Sims indicates that he has damaging information that he will release if McLeod steps out of line. The boss, Lt. Monaghan (Horace McMahon), respects McLeod’s detective work but doesn’t hesitate to warn him about the consequences of his short temper.
As the main plot unfolds, various subplots are introduced. A hapless young woman (Lee Grant, in her screen debut) is booked for shoplifting. A desperate young man, Arthur Kindred (Craig Hill), is arrested for embezzlement and then must confront both his employer (James Mahoney) to explain why he took the money, and his childhood friend Susan Carmichael (Cathy O. ‘Donnell). she that she goes to the station offering to repair the amount stolen. Two well-known robbers, Charley Gennini (Joseph Wiseman) and Lewis Abbott (Michael Strong), are dragged off and handed over to McLeod and his partner Lou Brody (William Bendix) for questioning.
There’s a constant hustle and bustle on the elementary set with detectives at their desks writing reports, uniformed cops coming and going, suspects being interrogated and fingerprinted. The camera is constantly moving to capture all the activity, much of it taking place simultaneously. In one scene, three characters are on three phones having three different conversations, and the timing is so perfect that we hear key snippets from each.
DirectorWilliam Wyler (Ben Hur) opens the film only slightly to show the street outside the police station (actually an outdoor set on the Paramount lot). There are many different acting styles in the film, ranging from Parker’s calm and emotional delivery to Wiseman’s over-the-top rant. Rather than appearing incoherent, they point to the diversity of characters found in a police station. Grant’s shoplifter is a naive observer present for most of the film, watching, asking questions, reacting to what she witnesses. Detectives and police officers deal with her business, taking everything that comes their way in stride. Anderson projects Sims’s arrogance and intimidating tone, totally ignored by McLeod. McMahon is completely convincing as the commanding officer of a Manhattan police station. Wiseman’s thief seems to be crazy. He rants, squirms, and bellows about his innocence even though the stolen goods are on him and he’s been jailed for theft many times before. His outbursts are so intense they’re hilarious.
Douglas plays McLeod as a rigid person who only sees black and white. He has no empathy for the factors that may have led to the actions that brought some of the suspects to the police station. Psychologically damaged by a terrible childhood, he takes out those years on the suspects who cross his path. His hatred for criminals runs deep and he is ruthless in following the letter of the law. Douglas’s trademark gritted-tooth delivery is on full display throughout, and it’s more intense in a later scene when his character becomes completely unhinged upon learning information that hits his unshakable beliefs and challenges his affections. by mary. Parker’s Mary allows us to see McLeod in a more favorable, warm, tender and loving light. Initially the stereotype of the pretty and devoted wife, Parker later embodies Mary’s heartbreak, confusion, agony, hope, and ultimate resolve.
Police novel It was shot by cinematographer Lee Garmes on black-and-white 35mm film, photochemically processed and presented in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The Kino Lorber Studio Classics Blu-ray release comes from a 4K scan of the original camera negative. Clarity and delineation are excellent, particularly evident in the spare crew room, the patterns on the clothing, the stubble on the male actors, and the wood grain on the doors. The lighting further de-glamors the set, with a few carefully composed shadows to heighten the drama in key scenes. The camera is always moving, following the characters. Directing and editing give the story a brisk pace despite the few settings and the dialogue-heavy script. In a scene of McLeod and Schneider in a boxcar, rear projection is used to suggest that the stationary studio set is the interior of a moving vehicle.
The soundtrack is in English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD Master Audio. Optional English SDH subtitles are available. Dialogue is clear and distinct. In tense scenes, Kirk Douglas grits his teeth and practically boils as he speaks. Lee Grant, equally scared and fascinated by the squad room, speaks in a thick “New Yawk” accent, accompanying his speech with wide eyes. Joseph Wiseman dominates his scenes with manic outbursts, screaming, and unprovoked screaming. Sound effects include beaten suspects, police and ambulance sirens, a fender crash, and gunshots. The film does not have an original score, but music by Miklos Rozsa and Victor Young from other films is used in the opening and closing credits.
Additional materials include the following:
- Audio Commentary with Alan K. Rode
- Trailer (2:21)
- Paths of Glory Trailer (3:03)
- Lonely Are the Brave Trailer (0:54)
- Trailer of A lovely way to die (2:25)
- the web trailer (2:17)
- Cry of the City Trailer (2:33)
- Kiss the Blood from My Hands Trailer (1:37)
- The Tipping Point Trailer (2:01)
- US Deadline Trailer (2:45)
- River Street Trailer 99 (2:14)
In his commentary, author and film historian Alan K. Rode notes that Police novel It was filmed entirely at Paramount Studios. Director William Wyler devoted two weeks to the rehearsal. The shooting schedule was five weeks. Screen rights cost $285,000. Original Broadway cast members who doubled their roles in the film include Lee Grant, Horace McMahon, Joseph Wiseman and Michael Strong. Due to the theme of the film, getting it done was an uphill battle. Joseph Been and the Production Code were still powerful in the early 1950s, and it would not be until Breen’s retirement in 1954 that the guidelines were relaxed. In the play, the squad room is described as “nakedly institutional.” Wyler expanded the sets from two in the play to six in the film. Supporting players are identified and a brief career description of each is provided. Eleanor Parker was nominated for Best Actress for caged and received a second Best Actress nomination for Police novel. The film was Joseph Wiseman’s feature film debut and although he often “plays on the balcony” himself, he turns in a performance that is fun to watch. A decade later, Wiseman played the title character in the first James Bond film, doctor not. William Wyler, known for doing a lot of takes, worked fast, actually days ahead of schedule. He directed three films that won the Academy Award for Best Picture, directed Bette Davis in three of her Oscar-nominated performances, and directed many actors who received Academy Award nominations. Wyler’s cinematographer was Lee Garmes, who worked very quickly. “Speed is valuable when time is money in Hollywood.” Police novel includes “a day in the life of a cartoon police station”. Kirk Douglas was very competitive and could be difficult to work with. Years later, Wyler offered Douglas the role of Messala in Ben Hur, offering to build the role, but Douglas refused. If he couldn’t be Ben-Hur, he wasn’t interested.
Police novel features a powerful performance from Kirk Douglas and a top-notch supporting cast. Director William Wyler gives each actor an exhibition scene and avoids a sense of claustrophobia through skillful camerawork and constant movement. Although the word “abortion” is never mentioned, the procedure is a key and dramatic plot point.