Search - Detective Story (1951) on DVD

Detective Story (1951)
Detective Story
Actors: Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix, Cathy O'Donnell, George Macready
Director: William Wyler
Genres: Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2005     1hr 43min

An embittered cop leads a precinct of characters in their grim battle with the city's lowlife while wife Parker suffers from neglect. Based on Sydney Kingsley's Broadway play, this seminal movie was a prototype for everyth...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Kirk Douglas, Eleanor Parker, William Bendix, Cathy O'Donnell, George Macready
Director: William Wyler
Creators: Lee Garmes, William Wyler, Lester Koenig, Robert Wyler, Philip Yordan, Sidney Kingsley
Genres: Classics, Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Classics, Classics, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen
DVD Release Date: 10/25/2005
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 43min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 9
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

Outstanding Kirk Douglas Movie
Terence Allen | Atlanta, GA USA | 08/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Detective Story, based on a Broadway play, is one of Kirk Douglas' finest performances. Playing a New York city police detective, the movie plays out like a day-in-the life of Douglas' character and his precinct, with an assorted cast of characters.

But Douglas dominates the proceedings. His detective is full of razor-sharp anger and vitriol, which has carried over into his personal life. Douglas plays it to the hilt,and his supporting cast is excellent, including Eleanor Parker, William Bendix, Joseph Wiseman, and Horace McMahon.

A mixture of police procedure, comedy, drama, and outright tragedy, Detective Story has been long overdue for DVD release.
"I hate criminals."
Westley | Stuck in my head | 11/26/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Kirk Douglas stars as Detective Jim McLeod, a NYC policeman struggling to bring criminals to justice. McLeod is relentless and somewhat inflexible - he's always convinced that he's doing the "right thing." Namely, he's a one-man army in a quest to make the streets safe for New Yorkers. Of course, if he has to beat up a few suspects along the way, well no harm done right? Despite the title, there isn't a big case to solve here - just a series of vignettes that arise during one night in the precinct.

Legendary director William Wyler ("The Best Years of Our Lives") helmed "Detective Story." He scored one of his record 12 directing nominations for the movie, and his work is solid, although "Detective Story" is far from his best effort. Wyler was always able to get terrific performances from his actors; however, the acting is actually somewhat uneven here. Douglas is rather ham-handed, and Eleanor Parker is just plain boring as his wife (she was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress for the part). However, William Bendix as a fellow detective and Lee Grant as a shoplifter really score. Grant also received an Oscar nomination for her role, which was her first movie role. Immediately afterwards, she was blacklisted and worked very little during for the rest of the 1950s.

When "Detective Story" was released in 1951, it was considered a raw portrait of police and criminals. Since that time, dozens of movies and umpteen incarnations of "Law and Order" have made most casual watchers experts on police methods as well as the flaws of the detectives themselves. Thus, what power this film may have had once has been severely blunted. If you approach this film expecting a brutal police drama, then you're likely to be disappointed. Furthermore, I've often seen "Detective Story" classified as film noir. The tone of the film is somewhat dark, but the story is too straight-forward and clean-scrubbed to truly be film noir. However, it's still a solid drama, worthy of attention.

For many years, I've wanted to see "Detective Story," and I was very pleased when it was finally released on DVD. Overall, the movie is a good period piece - a film that once was raw but now is fairly tame. The DVD transfer is good and includes subtitles; however, it offers no extras.
Raw Depiction of Policework
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 11/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Though adapted from a stageplay "Detective Story" feels neither stagey or dated. I attribute that to an excellent script that is centered on character developement and not as a straight police procedural. It's interesting as an examination of policework pre-Miranda. What is also interesting is that it is the earliest film to tackle, though implicitly, the issue of abortion that I can recall. Kirk Douglas' account of Jim McCloud, a detective so myopic that he sees no gray areas in fighting crime and allows it to spill into his personal life, gives one of the best performances of his career here. The underappreciated Eleanor Parker is excellent as McCloud's wife. William Bendix as McCloud's hard-drinking yet compassionate partner is also outstanding. Lee Grant and Joseph Wiseman give colorful turns as a shoplifter and burglar, respectively. Also noteworthy is the presence of George MacCready who later appeared with Douglas in Stanley Kubrick's masterpiece, "Paths of Glory", in the cast."
Detective Story
John Farr | 06/25/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Before "Homicide" or "Hill Street Blues" came this gritty, hard-hitting cop drama based on Sidney Kingsley's play. Honed to tense perfection by Wyler, the film is a showcase for fine, colorful ensemble acting by William Bendix (as the no-nonsense lieutenant), Lee Grant (reprising her role as a mousy shoplifter), Bert Freed (as McLeod's sensitive partner), and Joseph Wiseman (as a hilariously "innocent" Italian burglar). But it's Douglas's fierce, tragic performance as a modern lawman who still sees the world in stark black and white terms that provides the gut-twisting dramatic ironies. Absorbing and devastating, this "Story" gets under your skin and stays there."