Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Tonight's Movie: The Turning Point (1952)

My first film watched in 2013 was THE TURNING POINT, a title from my Netflix streaming queue with a cast of favorites: William Holden, Edmond O'Brien, and Alexis Smith.

THE TURNING POINT concerns a special prosecutor (O'Brien) and a reporter (Holden) who were childhood friends and are now working together to end organized crime (headed by Ed Begley Sr.) in their hometown.

 The problem grows bigger when the reporter realizes that the prosecutor's cop father (Tom Tully) is on the take from the mob. On a personal level, matters also grow complicated when the prosecutor's assistant and girlfriend, played by Alexis Smith, falls hard for the reporter.

I liked a lot about this movie, starting with the excellent cast. You can't go wrong with this trio of lead actors, and there are a number of other interesting faces in the cast, including Ray Teal as a police captain, Neville Brand and Russell Johnson as hitmen, and a flashy blonde Carolyn Jones as a witness at a hearing.

The police and press versus organized crime is a familiar theme I like, and there are a couple terrific set pieces, including Holden meeting with a terrified witness and the jovial Begley brutally burning down an apartment building where his about-to-be-subpoenaed records are stored. Unfortunately the exciting ending at a boxing match petered out, leaving me disappointed in a conclusion that was too much of a downer. It was a worthwhile movie with several interesting aspects, but ultimately it could have been better.

Although the movie was set in an unnamed city in the midwest, much of the filming was clearly done in Los Angeles, including Holden and Smith going for a ride on the very recognizable Angels Flight Railway also seen in CRISS CROSS (1949).

This 85-minute Paramount film was directed by William Dieterle.

The Netflix print was soft in places but watchable. March 2018 Update: THE TURNING POINT was previously also available at Amazon Instant Video but is currently not available.

May 2018 Update: I had the pleasure of seeing this film again at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, in a restored digital print from Paramount Pictures.


Blogger Vienna said...

Thanks for your review, a film I've never seen with a good cast. Will watch out for it.

7:17 AM  
Blogger Jacqueline T. Lynch said...

Liked this movie, hope to blog about it sometime or other. Covers lots of topical issues of the day well. I wondered about that Angels Flight Railway - I knew it was LA, but didn't know the name, and didn't know it was the same in "Criss Cross". I'll keep an eye out next time. Thanks.

9:50 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hope you can see it, Vienna!

The topical issues such as the "true to life" crime hearings were definitely among the film's interesting angles, Jacqueline. Glad I could provide the info about the locations. Look forward to you writing about this film one day.

Best wishes,

11:16 AM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Well, it’s only taken 5 years but I’m about to watch it on You Tube!

5:56 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm looking forward to hearing what you think, Vienna! :) :) So glad you can catch it.

Best wishes,

11:14 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

Good cast but I’m afraid it didn’t impress me. Plot nothing special and I didn’t like the ending!

10:32 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm glad you got to check it out, Vienna! I know what you mean about the ending -- boy was I surprised the first time I saw it. The L.A. locations helped win me over to the movie, though -- love seeing things like Angels' Flight and Bunker Hill on screen.

Thanks for sharing your feedback on it!!

Best wishes,

3:41 PM  

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