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Detective Story

Kirk Douglas , Eleanor Parker , William Wyler    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Product Description

An embittered cop leads a precinct of characters in their grim battle with the city's lowlife while wife Parker suffers from neglect. Based on Sydney Kingsley's Broadway play, this seminal movie was a prototype for everything from "Hill Street Blues" to "NYPD Blue." Academy Award Nominations: 4, including Best Director, Best Actress--Eleanor Parker, Best Screenplay.

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By J. Lovins TOP 50 REVIEWER
Paramount Pictures presents "DETECTIVE STORY" (1951) (103 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- "Sidney Kingsley's Broadway play Detective Story was praised for its realistic view of an event-filled day in a single police precinct station --- The film, directed by meticulous taskmaster William Wyler, manages to retain this realism, even allowing for the star-turn performance of Kirk Douglas --- A stickler for the letter of the law, Detective James McLeod (Douglas) is not averse to using strong-arm methods on criminals and witnesses alike in bringing lawbreakers to justice --- He is particularly rough on a first-time offender (Craig Hill), on whom the rest of the force is willing to go easy because of the anguish of his girlfriend (Cathy O'Donnell) --- But McLeod's strongest invective is reserved for shady abortion doctor Karl Schneider (George MacReady); McLeod all but ruins the case against Schneider by beating him up in the patrol wagon. When McLeod discovers that his own wife (Eleanor Parker) had many years earlier lost a baby in one of Schneider's operations, and that the baby's father was gangster Tami Giacoppetti (Gerald Mohr), it is too much for the detective to bear --- Punctuating the grim proceedings with brief moments of humor is future Oscar winner Lee Grant, reprising her stage role as a timorous shoplifter; it would be her last Hollywood assignment until the early 1960s, thanks to the iniquities of the blacklist --- Despite small concessions to Hollywood censorship, "Detective Story" largely upheld the power of its theatrical original.

An immensely powerful film with Douglas in top form.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  34 reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding Kirk Douglas Movie Aug. 23 2005
By Terence Allen - Published on Amazon.com
Detective Story, based on a Broadway play, is one of Kirk Douglas' finest performances. Playing a New York city police detective, the movie plays out like a day-in-the life of Douglas' character and his precinct, with an assorted cast of characters.

But Douglas dominates the proceedings. His detective is full of razor-sharp anger and vitriol, which has carried over into his personal life. Douglas plays it to the hilt,and his supporting cast is excellent, including Eleanor Parker, William Bendix, Joseph Wiseman, and Horace McMahon.

A mixture of police procedure, comedy, drama, and outright tragedy, Detective Story has been long overdue for DVD release.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Raw Depiction of Policework Nov. 24 2005
By David Baldwin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Though adapted from a stageplay "Detective Story" feels neither stagey or dated. I attribute that to an excellent script that is centered on character developement and not as a straight police procedural. It's interesting as an examination of policework pre-Miranda. What is also interesting is that it is the earliest film to tackle, though implicitly, the issue of abortion that I can recall. Kirk Douglas' account of Jim McCloud, a detective so myopic that he sees no gray areas in fighting crime and allows it to spill into his personal life, gives one of the best performances of his career here. The underappreciated Eleanor Parker is excellent as McCloud's wife. William Bendix as McCloud's hard-drinking yet compassionate partner is also outstanding. Lee Grant and Joseph Wiseman give colorful turns as a shoplifter and burglar, respectively. Also noteworthy is the presence of George MacCready who later appeared with Douglas in Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, "Paths of Glory", in the cast.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Detective Story June 25 2007
By John Farr - Published on Amazon.com
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Before "Homicide" or "Hill Street Blues" came this gritty, hard-hitting cop drama based on Sidney Kingsley's play. Honed to tense perfection by Wyler, the film is a showcase for fine, colorful ensemble acting by William Bendix (as the no-nonsense lieutenant), Lee Grant (reprising her role as a mousy shoplifter), Bert Freed (as McLeod's sensitive partner), and Joseph Wiseman (as a hilariously "innocent" Italian burglar). But it's Douglas's fierce, tragic performance as a modern lawman who still sees the world in stark black and white terms that provides the gut-twisting dramatic ironies. Absorbing and devastating, this "Story" gets under your skin and stays there.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wyler's picture never gives the impression on of being a filmed play... Dec 25 2006
By Roberto Frangie - Published on Amazon.com
Adapted from a Broadway play, "Detective Story" is in the Grand Hotel genre; two of the New York actors here made their film debuts--Joseph Wiseman, as the insane, homicidal burglar, and Lee Grant, as the gay and spirited Brooklynese shoplifter...

"Detective Story" is not so much a tale of detection but a focusing on the life and character of just one detective, James McLeod (Kirk Douglas).

McLeod is no ordinary detective, he is a fanatic, dedicated to the law and excessively brutal in dealing with criminals... He is particularly upset about abortionists, and it gradually becomes apparent that this is a psychological block in his mind... Some tragic happening in his past has caused him to look upon abortionists in a pathological light, and the abortionist in this film, played by George Macready with his patent brand of quiet, sinister refinement, has a hard time in the hands of McLeod...

The abortion angle of the original play was taken to the screen, partly because of censorship, and partly because the close-up, immediacy of the camera requires rage to be clearly more explained than on the stage...

Therefore, the film abortionist is also the manipulator of an adoption ring and a farm for unwed mothers... Whenever he appears at the precinct the abortionist is accompanied by his lawyer, although he might also have hired a bodyguard, since the fist-swinging McLeod is not above encircling his suspects...

As the story progresses, the reasons for McLeod's vicious temper and his hatred for crime are revealed as deriving from his love-hate attitude toward his father, a man of crooked tendencies... His mania makes life hard for his gentle wife Mary (Eleanor Parker) to whom he is nevertheless greatly attached...

Detective McLeod is understandably shattered when he discovers that his wife was once herself the subject of an abortion, and that the man who performed the illegal operation was the abortionist now at his mercy, Karl Schneider (George Macready).

"Detective Story" is light on plot line but rich in its different cast of characters... It is, in fact, a series of character studies, one major and many minor...

Kirk Douglas carries the burden of McLeod and makes the tormented policeman painfully believable--it is almost a nonstop, swirling performance... Around him Wyler arranges an expert team of actors: William Bendix as a tough but warm-hearted veteran cop; Horace McMahon as the precinct lieutenant who tolerates the frenzy of McLeod because he realizes he is doing his job honest1y and well; Eleanor Parker as the wife, driven to near-distraction by her husband; and several weirdly amusing criminal types, of whom those played by Wiseman and Lee Grant are shining examples, all of them moving through the dirty, oppressive atmosphere of a police station on any given work day...
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A gritty prototype. I see bits of Hill Street Blues in it. Jan. 9 2008
By JOHN GODFREY - Published on Amazon.com
This classic police mellow-drama is a perfect fit for the talents of young Kirk Douglas. He is an inflexible, angry cop. He is righteous with out compassion for any accused showing up at this rundown New York cop shop. They must be all guilty, otherwise they wouldn't be there. He has set himself up as jury & judge. There is one particular case that has haunted him for years. He consistently violates police procedure to say nothing of the law to apprehend those he believes to be guilty. One of his partners is William Bendix a kindly but tough cop. He is seeking mercy for one of Douglas' collars. He is inflexible & will hear none of it. Eleanor Powell plays Douglas' wife. She becomes involved in one of his cases which tests his principals. He does not handle it well. Things end badly very noir-like. See this if you like the police/detective tv shows of today. You'll recognize where some of their style came from.
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