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David Guercio

Detective Story

63 posts in this topic

On 11/22/2018 at 11:53 AM, TomJH said:

I just watched Detective Story again for the first time in years. What a typically smooth professional William Wyler screen adaption of a stage play it is, with a marvelous ensemble cast. I don't think there's a false note to be found with any of the actors.

Lee Grant is vulnerable and touching (and oddly funny, at times), Joseph Wiseman is a great creep, Horace McMahon is solid as the squad chief. And then there are the two lead performances of Kirk Douglas and Eleanor Parker, both of them riveting in their final scenes together.

But it's also a relatively quiet, less flashy characterization that caught my attention, too: Bill Bendix as the middle aged tough detective who still possesses a compassion that the zealous Douglas character lacks. Bendix may look a bit like a sagging couch potato but he brings heart to his role.

By the way, Bendix was one of Alan Ladd's best friends. I'm sure he had mixed feelings when he found out that Laddie didn't get the lead role.

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Dont forget Kathy O'Donnell who is touching as well. She gets a bad rap as she was married to Wyler's brother, but the marriage actually hurt her career as Goldwyn did not want her to marry him and dropped her soon after.

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On 12/1/2018 at 8:38 AM, TomJH said:

I've seen some of the "Kirk really chewed up the scenery" comments by a few posters here. Yes, he's definitely in your face (as well as that of anyone he thinks is a law breaker in the film). But I think it's appropriate. He could be a very intense actor (often in dislikable roles), and that may not appeal to everyone.

Douglas' declaration that his wife is a s l u t (that is the word he uses, isn't it?) because she had had a relationship before him is hard to take today (was it in 1951, I wonder) but that is the only moment in the film that made me cringe.

I enjoyed the entire cast, and have to say that I found Joseph Wiseman chillingly effective (as well as annoying as hell) as the four time loser burglar. Quite a contrast to his Dr. No performance, isnt it?

My all-time favourite Kirk Douglas performance, by the way, is as the loner cowboy in Lonely Are The Brave. Anyone else see that one? Kirk is actually a pretty laid back character in that film, thus adding to his character's appeal. Douglas was really a first rate actor in many of his films, certainly his best ones. Remember Paths of Glory, and the decency he brought to the part in an army world of corruption, or the sensitivity that he imbued in a macho role like Spartacus?

Yes. And Kirk went on the record as to that being his favorite film (Brave) I havent seen it in years. It pops up on TCM very rarely....

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On 12/1/2018 at 1:24 PM, speedracer5 said:

Re: Kirk calling Eleanor a tramp for having a relationship before him:

This whole idea of women needing to remain chaste before marrying is reiterated often in society.  Young women don't want to develop a reputation for being that kind of woman and such.  However, young boys are often encouraged to sow their wild oats and such...

As it appears that Kirk and Eleanor hadn't been married for an overly long time (maybe only a few years) and both appeared to be in their 30s at least, it could be assumed that they weren't high school sweethearts.  I would imagine that Kirk probably wasn't "immaculate" when he met Eleanor.  

Which makes me believe that apparently there are women whose chastity is sacrificed in order for boys to become men (so to speak), but at the same time, these same women will be vilified for having had a relationship before whomever they ultimately marry.  

It wasnt just because Eleanor wasnt "pure".

 

SPOILERS.

 

 

Didnt she have an abortion as well? That's how I remember it. (I havent seen it in awhile).......

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3 hours ago, Hibi said:

It wasnt just because Eleanor wasnt "pure".

 

SPOILERS.

 

 

Didnt she have an abortion as well? That's how I remember it. (I havent seen it in awhile).......

Yes she did.  The doctor that Kirk is trying to catch throughout the film is the one who performed Eleanor's abortion. Kirk learns of the abortion after learning of her previous relationship.  He is further enraged when he learns that the abortion is the cause of Eleanor's infertility.  Kirk and Eleanor are discussing their fertility problems at the beginning of the film.

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In any case, I am a big fan of actor George MacCready. The guy was a consummate bad guy. He and Kirk later appear together in Kubrik's "Paths of Glory". I love MacCready's cold, caustic, upperclass diction; his coldness and frostiness. His bearing. His chilly mannerisms. The way he held his spine; rigid and fanatic.

I forget what movie it was where he plays a good guy. Extraordinary reversal.

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4 minutes ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

In any case, I am a big fan of actor George MacCready. The guy was a consummate bad guy. He and Kirk later appear together in Kubrik's "Paths of Glory". I love MacCready's cold, caustic, upperclass diction; his coldness and frostiness. His bearing. His chilly mannerisms. The way he held his spine; rigid and fanatic.

I forget what movie it was where he plays a good guy. Extraordinary reversal.

Macready was cast as a minister in Alias Nick Beal, giving minion of the Devil Ray Milland the spooks, as well as a desire to vanish from the room whenever he appeared.

Truth is I prefer watching him when he plays a cold bastard with a silken voice, whether it be in Gilda, Johnny Allegro or Paths of Glory, among others.

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Good catch, and I don't disagree with you but the flick I am recalling is rather obscure. Likely that you or someone else knows it. Is it 'Ministry of Fear' perhaps? Longshot. The scene I recall is this: MacCready is an eastern-bloc bureaucrat who's wife is a strident party member; but he doesn't go along with her views. Very carefully, he finds a way to let the opposition know he is sympathetic to their aims; and yet at all times he is wary of being found out by his wife and turned in for charges of treason. Finally--at long last--the underground manages to meet with him and assure him of their veracity. They would be proud to have him join their cause. This is the scene (for me) where George MacCready has at last one chance to show his humanity. He almost breaks down and weeps with relief in this scene I am thinking of. He looks at the resistance fighters with wet, doe-like eyes and tries to convey how long he has struggled and how long he has hoped to be among them. "It's a good feeling," he murmurs.

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Macready got his famous scar in an automobile accident. It was certainly one of his trademarks that cemented him as a screen villain. But he could play benign characters such as Cordell Hull in TORA TORA TORA.

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12 hours ago, speedracer5 said:

Yes she did.  The doctor that Kirk is trying to catch throughout the film is the one who performed Eleanor's abortion. Kirk learns of the abortion after learning of her previous relationship.  He is further enraged when he learns that the abortion is the cause of Eleanor's infertility.  Kirk and Eleanor are discussing their fertility problems at the beginning of the film.

Thanks. I thought so. I know she was pregnant. But I couldnt remember if it was aborted or she just lost it. I knew that quack was involved somehow...

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2 hours ago, Hibi said:

Thanks. I thought so. I know she was pregnant. But I couldnt remember if it was aborted or she just lost it. I knew that quack was involved somehow...

Given the times was a doctor willing to perform such services more of a quack or a more of an able bodied servant?

Clearly from the detective's POV he was 'evil' but the detective was over-the-top about almost everything.  

 

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4 hours ago, Hibi said:

Thanks. I thought so. I know she was pregnant. But I couldnt remember if it was aborted or she just lost it. I knew that quack was involved somehow...

Due to censorship they could not use the word "abortion", though it was used in the original play. In the film the George Macready character was an obstetrician who lost his licence. In the play it clearly calls him an abortionist. 

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3 minutes ago, cigarjoe said:

It's a film that illustrates the culture shift from 1951 to 2018.

I understand that (but I wouldn't go to 2018, since there were many films during the 60s where doctors performing such services were portrayed as being helpful (i.e. providing a services a women 'needed').

I need to go back and look at how the doctor is portrayed separate from the tainted views of the detective.   E.g. was the doctor's primary interest offering an illegal service because the pay was very good (e.g. like a mob doctor), or because he was offering what he believe was a necessary service (but yea, given the times most likely the latter).

 

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