Crime / Drama / Film Noir
Directed by William Wyler
Cast: Kirk Douglas as Det. James McLeod
Eleanor Parker as Mary McLeod
William Bendix as Det. Lou Brody
Cathy O'Donnell as Susan Carmichael
George Macready as Karl Schneider
Horace McMahon as Lt. Monaghan
Gladys George as Miss Hatch
Joseph Wiseman as Charley Gennini
Lee Grant as Shoplifter
Gerald Mohr as Tami Giacoppetti
Frank Faylen as Det. Gallagher
Craig Hill as Arthur Kindred
Michael Strong as Lewis Abbott
Luis Van Rooten as Joe Feinson
Bert Freed as Det. Dakis
Warner Anderson as Endicott Sims
Grandon Rhodes as Det. O'Brien
William 'Bill' Phillips as Det. Pat Callahan
Russell Evans as Patrolman Barnes
Adapted from the very successful stage play of the same name by Sidney Kingsley, Detective Story is a 1951 Paramount Pictures release directed by William Wyler.
Set in a detective squad room in New York, Detective Story is a film about the happenings in one day in the lives of those who work or pass through the squad room.
James McLeod is a warm and loving husband to his wife, Mary, but a hard-nosed, successful detective with no sympathy for criminals. In his world there is right and wrong and no ground in between. His attitude has been molded and hardened by his experiences with his own father, who was a criminal and who drove his mother to insanity, and by an event early in his career when he released two young crooks only to have one commit murder soon after. In his opinion there should not be any second chances for criminals.
The main cases on the detective’s agenda for the day include a naïve young shoplifter, a young man who is accused of embezzling a fairly small amount of money from his employer so he can impress a woman , two burglars, and an abortionist that McLeod is pursuing on murder charges.
McLeod’s frustration builds as his partner, Lou Brody, wants to go easy on the young embezzler, Arthur Kindred, and give him a second chance. A friend of Kindred’s has shown up and promises to make good on the money that was stolen, but McLeod holds the hard line and will not yield.
His anger increases when the witness McLeod had to testify against the abortionist, Karl Schneider, recants her testimony, having been bribed by the doctor, and then he discovers that his other witness, a young woman in the hospital, has died. Gloating, Schneider is free to go since there are no witnesses against him, and he taunts McLeod that he knows things that can do a lot of damage to the detective.
Detective McLeod is mentally and emotionally destroyed when a man enters the squad room and it is revealed that he was a former lover of McLeod’s wife, Mary, and that, as a result of their relationship, Mary once had an abortion before she ever met her husband.