Saturday, August 29, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Motor Patrol (1950)

MOTOR PATROL (1950) is another fun little movie from Lippert Pictures which will appeal to those who enjoy police procedurals of an earlier era.

Ken Foster (Don Castle) is training at the Los Angeles Police Academy with hopes of being a motor officer. Ken's good friend Larry (William "Bill" Henry) is already a motor officer, and Ken is engaged to Larry's sister Jean (Gwen O'Connor).

Larry is tragically killed while investigating a hit-and-run accident connected to a gang of car thieves, and Ken is recruited to join Detectives Robert Flynn (Reed Hadley) and Bill Hartley (Richard "Dick" Travis) in the investigation. Ken goes undercover, trying to obtain key information from femme fatale Connie Taylor (Jane Nigh).

This is simply an entertaining short cop film, over and done in 67 minutes. It's quite reminiscent of MGM'S CODE TWO (1953), perhaps on a slightly cheaper budget. I especially enjoyed the brief glimpses of 1950 L.A., including the Police Academy in Elysian Park.

It's possible to pick up interesting little bits about daily life from these films. I enjoyed that the first group of people seen performing impressively at the shooting range were female officers, which one might not expect in a film of 1950. A dramatic poster warning against "TEENACIDE," teens drinking and driving fast, also caught my eye. Social problems such as teens under the influence were an issue the police were trying to combat even back in that era.

The movie's attitudes and acting styles may seem a bit quaint by today's standards, but I find that's part of the charm. You just don't find movies made anymore with this kind of earnest, enthused, and at times hokey sincerity. It makes for fun viewing, even if it causes chuckles at times.

It's especially fun to find Hadley, the narrator of so many docu-noir titles, as a detective, and to run into faces enjoyed in other (often lesser-known) films, such as Castle (HIGH TIDE, THE GUILTY), Travis (THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER and the Warner Bros. B films BUSSES ROAR and TRUCK BUSTERS), and Nigh (STATE FAIR, OPERATION HAYLIFT, BORDER TREASURE, RIO GRANDE PATROL).

MOTOR PATROL was directed by Sam Newfield and filmed in black and white by Ernest Miller.

The supporting cast includes Frank Jenks, Onslow Stevens, Sid Melton, Charles Victor, and Charles Wagenheim.

MOTOR PATROL is part of the VCI set Forgotten Noir and Crime Collection, Vol. 4. As is typical for the VCI sets, the print is excellent.


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