Tells the story of one day in the lives of the various people who populate a police detective squad. An embittered cop, Det. Jim McLeod, leads a precinct of characters in their grim daily battle with the city's lowlife. The characters who pass through the precinct over the course of the day include a young petty embezzler, a pair of burglars, and a naive shoplifter.
It's intense at the 21st Precinct. An assortment of detectives and an assortment of criminals, all gathered together under the oppressive 21st Precint roof. It's a day that nobody present will ever forget - for better or worse... Directed by William Wyler (Best years Of Our Lives, Ben-Hur & Wuthering Heights) and starring Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix, Cathy O'Donnell and Joseph Wiseman. Detective Story is based on the smash hit Broadway play by Sidney Kingsley, adapted by Phillip Yordan and Robert Wyler, it's with much relief to me that the worry of it being a stagy production never actually materialises. Practically set on one bleak, but quite excellently appropriate set (creation courtesy of Hal Pereira & Earl Hedrick), Detective Story manages to rise above the very simple plot by boasting interesting characters in a pot boiling story just waiting to reach its peak. Each character has much to offer the film, be it oddly quirky or overtly intense, within the confines of this particular precinct, the characters create engrossing drama. It's a difficult film to sell without giving too much away, by outlaying the character persona's and mental fortitude's, I personally feel that it will dull the impact of this influential crime genre piece. It's got real raw emotive acting, particularly from Kirk Douglas as Jim McLeod and Eleanor Parker as his wife Mary, while the technical aspects (watch Lee Garmes' camera glide like a third party witness) are impressively high. And with it embracing as it does, morality themes, it also doesn't lack for interest to the cranial head scratching crowd. It's by definition to me an all encompassing picture, one that is now sure to be a perennial viewing in my home. It's not a standard crime picture, and it most definitely is a talky film, but this works incredibly well, so one can only hope that many others will feel the same as myself, in that namely that it is indeed a fine and essential genre piece. 8/10