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David Guercio

Detective Story

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3 minutes ago, David Guercio said:

Has Eddie Muller ever shown Detective Story on Noir Alley?

Good question;    Since this is a 1951 Paramount film it could be difficult for TCM to lease.    I have seen it a lot on either MOVIES-TV or GET-TV (which isn't a good thing for TCM access since these stations tend to show films from studios TCM only features from time-to-time (unlike WB,  MGM and RKO).

 

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It's a "Five-Borough-Noir" (aka, a noir set in New York City) as well as a "Procedure-Noir" (noir emphasizing police techniques); also its a "Kirk-Noir" (noir starring actor Kirk Douglas) additionally its a Red-Headed-Dick noir (red-haired protagonists). No reason not to show it.

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The first time I ever saw Detective Story was on TCM, so I know it's aired before. MovieCollectorOH's database says that it's aired on TCM nine times, but the most recent was July, 2014. So it has definitely never been on Noir Alley, which started much later than that.

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Great play, great movie. Several of the original stage cast are in the film (Ralph Bellamy played Kirk's role of McCloud). My favorite line is when Horace McMahon says to Kirk "Can't you say 'yes sir' without making it sound like an insult?!"

Not too long after I bought George Seaton's 16mm print, I ran into Joseph Wiseman on 6th Avenue. I told him I had just run the picture and he said "oh, my, that goes way back, doesn't it?" He was so nice.

I ran the film for old pal Steven Bauer one night and he was totally blown away by it. We both agreed that buddy Ray Liotta would be perfect for a remake or stage revival.

And I love Kirk's glasses (got a pair very similar a couple of years ago - from China!).

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The moment from the movie that replays the most in my mind is when Lee Grant confesses, "I took a BEG!" A ... beg?

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18 hours ago, jamesjazzguitar said:

Good question;    Since this is a 1951 Paramount film it could be difficult for TCM to lease.    I have seen it a lot on either MOVIES-TV or GET-TV (which isn't a good thing for TCM access since these stations tend to show films from studios TCM only features from time-to-time (unlike WB,  MGM and RKO).

 

It's been on TCM a FEW times within a week or two of each showing recently.

Try to see it each time it's on.  

Sepiatone

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4 hours ago, Sepiatone said:

It's been on TCM a FEW times within a week or two of each showing recently.

Try to see it each time it's on.  

Sepiatone

Thanks.    Yea,  I also tend to watch it (or parts of it), anytime it is on.    I've become a big fan of Eleanor Parker in the last few years.    (e.g. watched Man With the Golden Arm last night on a local station that has NO commercials and a host that knows 'classic' movies well).

 

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Alan Ladd had hoped to get the lead role as the obsessive cop in Detective Story. Always concerned about the generally weak material he was given by Paramount (even though he reigned for quite a while as top box office), Ladd was excited at the thought of playing the role, hoping the opportunity might gain him more respect as an actor.

The Hollywood Reporter, in fact, reported that Ladd's home studio had purchased the rights to the play, with Ladd to be given the lead role. The actor was surprised and delighted at the news, but any talk from the studio of Ladd in the film died away. It is suspected that William Wyler, already cast as director, didn't want Ladd.

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18 minutes ago, TomJH said:

Alan Ladd had hoped to get the lead role as the obsessive cop in Detective Story. Always concerned about the generally weak material he was given by Paramount (even though he reigned for quite a while as top box office), Ladd was excited at the thought of playing the role, hoping the opportunity might gain him more respect as an actor.

The Hollywood Reporter, in fact, reported that Ladd's home studio had purchased the rights to the play, with Ladd is be given the lead role. The actor was surprised and delighted at the news, but any talk from the studio of Ladd in the film died away. It is suspected that William Wyler, already cast as director, didn't want Ladd.

Yeah, and ya know WHY, Tom?

'Cause Wyler was afraid Ladd wouldn't be able to resist the urge to twirl his service revolver whenever he'd replace it back in its holster.

(...and you of ALL people should be able to understand this, right?!)  ;)

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46 minutes ago, Dargo said:

Yeah, and ya know WHY, Tom?

'Cause Wyler was afraid Ladd wouldn't be able to resist the urge to twirl his service revolver whenever he'd replace it back in its holster.

(...and you of ALL people should be able to understand this, right?!)  ;)

You're right, Dargo. That would have been a problem.

Aside from that concern, it would have been interesting casting, though. Ladd was hardly the dynamic full throttle performer that Douglas was, of course. But I recall how effective his stoney faced countenance was when he played a psychopath in This Gun for Hire. There are obsessive mental disorders with the lead character in Detective Story, as well.

With the right director Ladd, always insecure as an actor, might have been able to reach deeper than he had previously. That was certainly the case when George Stevens worked with him in Shane (despite that gun twirl).

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11 minutes ago, TomJH said:

You're right, Dargo. That would have been a problem.

Aside from that concern, it would have been interesting casting, though. Ladd was hardly the dynamic full throttle performer that Douglas was, of course. But I recall how effective his stoney faced countenance was when he played a psychopath in This Gun for Hire. There are obsessive mental disorders with the lead character in Detective Story, as well.

With the right director Ladd, always insecure as an actor, might have been able to reach deeper than he had previously. That was certainly the case when George Stevens worked with him in Shane (despite that gun twirl).

Well, if this was your way of saying that Ladd would've been far less likely to have "chewed the scenery" like Douglas did in this film, then yeah sure, I'd have to go along with ya here.

 

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True. I dont see how anyone could have topped his performance.....

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Well the play opened on Broadway, doing 581 performances with Ralph Bellamy playing detective Jim McLeod.  

Now if the play would have starred Rod Steiger,,,,,,,

 

 

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GAG. I cant picture Ralph Bellamy in the role at all.......

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10 minutes ago, Hibi said:

GAG. I cant picture Ralph Bellamy in the role at all.......

I can't either but it might explain why Paramount brought the rights to the play thinking it would make a good role for Alan Ladd.

I.e.  Ladd's acting style is more similar to that of Bellamy then it is Kirk Douglas.

Good thing Wyler stepped in and cast Douglas in the role (since to me the character needs the kind of juice an actor like Douglas brings even when he does sometimes go overboard).

 

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Since a lot of the film is shot in medium shots, Ladd's height would come into play. Not sure he could've overcome that, but we'll never know. It certainly would've made a difference in his career if he could've pulled it off.

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1 hour ago, Hibi said:

Since a lot of the film is shot in medium shots, Ladd's height would come into play. Not sure he could've overcome that, but we'll never know. It certainly would've made a difference in his career if he could've pulled it off.

Good observation. The more actors in the shot, the more obvious Ladd's height becomes. They couldn't dig a trench in the sand like they did in Boy on a Dolphin so that Sophia Loren would look shorter than Alan Ladd.

 

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1 hour ago, kingrat said:

Good observation. The more actors in the shot, the more obvious Ladd's height becomes. They couldn't dig a trench in the sand like they did in Boy on a Dolphin so that Sophia Loren would look shorter than Alan Ladd.

 

In Googies, Coffeshop to the Stars Vol. 1 author Steve Hayes has a great anecdote about working with Alan Ladd (as an extra on Botany Bay). The anecdote gives a good insight into Ladd's character.

Hayes writes that word got around the film set that the grips working on the film were going to come up with a joke to play on Ladd:

The joke came about this way: We'd been shooting for several weeks and rumors were flying around that the crew was "planning something." The rest of us tried to find out what it was but no one was talking. Then one day during lunch, while Ladd was taking a nap, I noticed the crew had gathered near his trailer. Sue Carol (Ladd's wife) wasn't around, which was unusual because she hovered over him like a mother hen, and the door was open. Helped by Ladd's stand-in, Jimmy Cornell, the grip quietly secured the leg-irons that Ladd wore aboard the ship to a 2x4 block of wood that the star often used in scenes to increase his height. Jimmy then locked the leg irons to Ladd's ankles and ducked out of the trailer. Word of the joke leaked to everyone on the set and we were all "casually" sitting around the sound-stage when Ladd woke up. We heard him curse as he found himself chained to the block and we all waited eagerly to see what would happen next.

Ladd fooled everyone. Shortly he emerged as if nothing was amiss, nonchalantly dragging the 2x4 down the trailer steps as if he didn't notice it. He then grinned, waved to everyone and in his inimitable deep gravelly voice said, "I'd like to thank the thoughtful **** who did this. Now I'll never have to worry about finding something to stand on!" And as everyone around him cracked up, he calmly made his way to the set.

We all applauded. And after Ladd was out of earshot Jimmy Cornell turned to us and said, "And that, boys and girls, is how you become a class act!"

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About three years ago, our local film society ran DETECTIVE STORY to a packed house and the audience reaction was astounding. Folks usually are pretty talkative and leave very quickly, but that night it was  an almost stunned silence and we had small clusters of people standing around for about 20 minutes earnestly discussing the movie.

It wasn't exactly what they expected, but boy did they get into it. Without giving anything away, there's one line that Douglas' character says to his wife that brought this very loud gasp from just about the whole audience. I think it's one of those films that plays so much better with an audience than just watching it alone on TV. 

 

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22 hours ago, sewhite2000 said:

The moment from the movie that replays the most in my mind is when Lee Grant confesses, "I took a BEG!" A ... beg?

YES! GREAT!

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If we're gonna talk alternatives, I thought JOHN GARFIELD would have done McLeod pretty good.  It likely, however, might have killed him, or would have become HIS last film....

Sepiatone

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