Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tonight's Movie: The Case Against Brooklyn (1958)

We're on an overnight trip to Flagstaff, Arizona, to drive our son home from his successful freshman year at Northern Arizona University.

I was delighted to discover that our hotel had Turner Classic Movies available. I rarely get to watch TCM "live," usually recording what I want to watch for later viewing, so it was fun to be able to sit down this evening and check out THE CASE AGAINST BROOKLYN.

THE CASE AGAINST BROOKLYN was inspired by actual events recounted in a book by Ed Reid, I BROKE THE BROOKLYN GRAFT SCANDAL.

Pete Harris (Darren McGavin) is anxious to jump-start his career on the NYPD after years of military service. He is recruited to help bust a gambling ring which is paying off cops. It's a dangerous assignment, particularly as it's hard to tell the good cops from the bad cops, and Pete will pay a high personal price for his role in smashing the ring.

I love the docu-noir genre, but I found THE CASE AGAINST BROOKLYN on the creaky side. It has a number of good actors in the cast and it was watchable, but there wasn't anything especially distinguished or notable about it. Indeed, it was drab and overly predictable, particularly when bad things were about to occur, and on the whole it was quite dark in tone. In fact, the relentless and reckless Pete becomes something of an anti-hero. The film was in need of some balance to counteract the high body count; one should have felt inspired by the end of the film, but instead it's a bit of a downer.

In addition to McGavin, the cast includes Warren Stevens, who recently passed away, as one of the crooks; Peggy McCay as Pete's wife and Margaret "Maggie" Hayes as a source on the case; Tol Avery as a good guy district attorney and Emile Meyer as a bad cop; Brian Hutton as Pete's partner; and familiar faces such as Nestor Paiva, Joe De Santis, Herb Vigran, and Thomas Browne Henry.

Bobby Helms ("Jingle Bell Rock") sings "Jacqueline" in one of the lighter scenes of the film. His face doesn't express much emotion, but he has an enjoyable voice.

This film was directed by Paul Wendkos. It runs 82 minutes.

The black and white cinematography was by Fred Jackman Jr., whose name seems to be turning up regularly in the credits of films I've seen in recent weeks!


Fans may enjoy visiting the official Darren McGavin web page, which also has information on the career of his wife, actress Kathie Browne.

May 2019 Update: This film will be released on Blu-ray later this year.


Blogger Unknown said...

Love this movie. So sad to hear that Warren Stevens passed.

12:21 PM  

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