Saturday, January 23, 2016

Tonight's Movie: Calling Homicide (1956) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

CALLING HOMICIDE (1956) is the third title in the five-film Bill Elliott Detective Mysteries Collection, available from the Warner Archive.

I'm finding these ultra-serious DRAGNET-style crime procedurals most engaging and am rather sorry there are only two left to watch.

Elliott again plays Detective Lt. Andy Doyle, working on the tragic case of a colleague who was blown up in his squad car behind the Hollywood Sheriff's station. Just before his death the murdered detective had said he was working on a big case, but he hadn't yet handed over any information to his superiors. All the man's papers were incinerated in the explosion, so it's up to Andy and his team to piece together the crime their friend was working on and thus also solve his murder.

A short while later a woman's body is found in the Hollywood Hills on a rainy night, and it turns out her death is connected.

I love the atmosphere in these films, which an IMDb reviewer called "late Chandler Los Angeles."  The Hollywood Sheriff's station looks impossibly rural as seen in this film, but I found a photo online (seen here), and it thus appears to be the real deal.

There's a terrific scene where Andy follows leads to the soundstage set of a Western, where he talks with a very natural and congenial Herb Vigran and Mary Treen about their memories of an old picture they worked on in the '40s.

Don Haggerty joins the series as Detective Sgt. Mike Duncan in this film, and he appeared in the next two films as well. James Best has a nice part as a detective with a pronounced Southern twang. Pros like Lyle Talbot and Thomas Browne Henry are also in the cast, and the leading ladies are Jeanne Cooper and Kathleen Case.

CALLING HOMICIDE was written and directed by Edward Bernds. It runs a brisk 60 minutes. The movie was shot by Harry Neumann.

CALLING HOMICIDE is a fine print. There are no extras.

Previously reviewed films in this set: DIAL RED O (1955) and SUDDEN DANGER (1955).

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD collection. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop.


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