MURDER IS MY BEAT is a bit of a curiosity, a lower-rank film noir from Allied Artists which is all over the map: It's got a solid basic storyline, some nicely edited moments, and good L.A. locations mixed with tepid performances, so-bad-it's-good voiceover narration, ultra-obvious back projections, and a documentary sequence which makes the viewer wonder where on earth the crime movie went.
All in all, a rather strange film, yet as a film noir fan, I was glad I saw it.
Patrick, normally a by-the-book guy, is suddenly overcome with determination to find out if the "victim" is alive and hopefully clear Eden's name. He and Eden jump off the moving train and plan to give themselves a week to solve the case, then turn Eden in at the prison. Why Det. Patrick doesn't just call in his fellow cops instead of jeopardizing his career was beyond me, but then we wouldn't have a movie...
The underlying story is actually pretty good, which helps to hold the viewer's interest, and there are a couple of nicely done moments, such as the scene on the train which cuts back and forth from Ray to Eden to the train wheels moving inexorably forward.
Aubrey Wisberg are painfully corny, particularly in the scene where the poor cop trudges through the snow in search of the accused murderess.
Some of the storyline is set at a ceramics factory, and in the movie's strangest moment we are suddenly treated to documentary footage of the factory assembly lines. This footage has nothing to do with the story, it's just dropped into the middle of the movie, which is actually strangely amusing. I was expecting a ceramic figurine to be a key plot element, but nope! Although the owners of the factory, played by Roy Gordon and the always-reliable Selena Royle, do figure in the goings-on.
Edgar G. Ulmer, whose credits include THE STRANGE WOMAN (1946), RUTHLESS (1947), and DETOUR (1945); an interesting bit of trivia is that DETOUR starred Tom Neal, who was involved in an infamous scandal with MURDER IS MY BEAT's Barbara Payton in the early '50s. The short, sad life of Barbara Payton was chronicled in the book KISS TOMORROW GOODBYE by John O'Dowd, published by Bear Manor Media.
The movie was shot in black and white by Harold G. Wellman. Some early shots of L.A. convey a nice sense of place, but there's an overuse of phony back projections, both during Det. Patrick's visit to the ceramics factory and when Eden's friend Patsy (Tracy Roberts) is walking down the street in a small town.
Robert Shayne brings life to the role of Patrick's friend, Police Captain Rawley, and his presence in the last section of the movie is a definite plus, giving the movie a bit of needed energy. The cast also includes Kate McKenna, Jay Adler, Henry Harvey Sr., Madge Cleveland, and Anthony Jochim.
The remastered print from Warner Archive is quite nice, and despite -- because of? -- its odder aspects, film noir fans should check out this good-looking DVD. It can be rented from ClassicFlix.
There's more on this film from Mark at Where Danger Lives and Glenn Erickson at DVD Savant.