Detective Story

Released Oct. 24, 1951: DETECTIVE STORY, starring Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, and William Bendix. Directed by William Wyler (The Letter, The Best Years of Our Lives, The Desperate Hours). The setting is the squad room of the 21st precinct in New York, which is inhabited by detectives, criminals, lawyers, beat cops, and average citizens all thrown together in a melting pot of human drama and tragedy.DetectiveStory  At the center of this whirlpool is detective James McLeod (Kirk Douglas), who takes an especially hard line with criminals, and as we come to learn, with his personal life as well. Douglas’ story forms the main thread of the film, but there are several side plots with a host of interesting characters interwoven throughout. There’s never a dull moment at the precinct. Detective Story is a an adaptation of a Broadway play, and at times its stage roots are evident, but for the most part, Wyler does a great job making it feel very movie-like. He’s aided by a great script, an absorbing emotional story, and a superb ensemble cast. Lee Grant, in her film debut, is particularly endearing as a woman arrested for the first time for a minor offense. She becomes the story’s audience surrogate, observing and reacting to the goings on in the precinct. This film also gives us an opportunity to catch early glimpses of several character actors who would become familiar faces to television audiences in the following decades (Joseph Wiseman, Gerald Mohr, Michael Strong, Bert Freed, and Burt Mustin). We give Detective Story 4.5 out of 5 fedoras.

4.5 Fedoras


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