Detective Story Review
By Christopher Null
It's just another day at the precinct for Jim McLeod (Kirk Douglas)... well, that's what we're supposed to think anyway.
Detective Story takes place almost entirely within a detective squad room of a police station. Originally a play, the film focuses on the dramas -- large and small -- that go on during this fateful day. A woman (Lee Grant) is hauled in for shoplifting. She spends the entire day just sitting there, waiting. Another man is brought in for stealing from his boss in order to fund his girlfriend's expensive tastes, while her sister begs for the cops to let him go. Two burglars are given the shakedown. And, in what drives the film's most critical plot forward, McLeod spars continuously with a suspicious doctor for reasons unknown. When McLoed's wife (Eleanor Parker) shows up, it'll come to a head.
Detective Story is a film from a much different era, and it's obvious from the first frame. These are gumshoes with no qualms about roughing up a suspect to get him to talk. And, most tellingly, it's a time when the treatment for getting shot in the stomach is propping the poor guy up in a chair and giving him a shot of whiskey. There's a lot of tearing of hair here, and some of the shenanigans run absurdly over the top.
While the film's histrionics haven't aged perfectly, the film is worth seeing if for nothing more than to catch Joseph Wiseman's early role as a burglar who denies everything and later gets found out. Wiseman would later go on to relative fame as James Bond's first adversary, Dr. No. His cackling mania is a bit much for a "four time loser," but it would be perfect in that fateful performance years later.
Facts and Figures
In Theaters: Monday 19th May 1952
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures
Rotten Tomatoes: 67%
Fresh: 6 Rotten: 3
Cast & Crew
Starring: Kirk Douglas as Det. James 'Jim' McLeod, Eleanor Parker as Mary McLeod, William Bendix as Det. Lou Brody, Cathy O'Donnell as Susan Carmichael, George Macready as Karl Schneider, Horace McMahon as Lt. Monaghan, Gladys George as Miss Hatch, Joseph Wiseman as Charley Gennini, Lee Grant as Shoplifter, Gerald Mohr as Tami Giacoppetti, Frank Faylen as Det. Gallagher, Craig Hill as Arthur Kindred, Michael Strong as Lewis Abbott, Luis van Rooten as Joe Feinson, Bert Freed as Det. Dakis, Burt Mustin as Janitor, Catherine Doucet as Mrs. Farragut, Russell Evans as Barnes, Warner Anderson as Sims, James Maloney as Pritchett, Donald Kerr as Cabbie, Ann Codee as Burglarized Woman