BLUE LAMP, THE (director: Basil Deardon; screenwriter: Alexander Mackendrick/T.E.B. Clarke/story by Jan Read & Ted Willis; cinematographer: Gordan Dines; editor: Peter Tanner; music: Ernest Irving; cast: Dirk Bogarde (Tom Riley), Jack Warner (PC George Dixon), Jimmy Hanley (PC Andy Mitchell), Peggy Evans (Diana Lewis), Bernard Lee (Insp. Cherry), Robert Flemyng (Sgt. Roberts), Patric Doonan (Spud), Meredith Edwards (PC Hughes), Gladys Henson (Mrs Dixon), Tessie O’Shea (Herself), Michael Golden (Mike Randall), Gene Neighbors (Queenie); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Michael Balcon; Eagle-Lion Classics; 1950-UK)
“Solid Brit crime drama.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Solid Brit crime drama from Ealing Studios that spawned a longtime BBC-TV series, “Dixon of Dock Green,” despite Jack Warner’s likable bobby character getting killed off in the movie he’s miraculously revived for the TV show. Basil Deardon effectively directs this engaging popular crime thriller (supposedly the most popular ever in Britain) that is based on a story by Jan Read and Ted Willis; it’s scripted by ex-policeman T.E.B. Clarke. It portrays an idealized police force that seems too good to be true but, nevertheless, popularized what it’s like to be a bobby.
Told in a semi-documentary style (a forerunner to Dragnet), it captures postwar London in its location shots and highlights its growing problem of criminal youths. It also provides a pointed moral message that there’s a right way to do crime in a nonviolent and tidy way as practiced by the professional criminal. According to the filmmakers, this lesson has not gotten through to the punky young upstarts.
The film traces amiable and efficient veteran bobby George Dixon (Jack Warner) breaking in his 25-year-old rookie partner Andy Mitchell (Jimmy Hanley) into how to properly handle himself on his beat. It also follows two punky youths, small-time hoods, Spud (Patric Doonan) and Tom Riley (Dirk Bogarde). The two rob a jewelry store and Tom clubs a bobby before escaping, but the belt from his trench coat is left behind as a clue. Tom’s runaway teenage girlfriend Diana Lewis (Peggy Evans) gets a job in a cinema so she can provide the boys with the layout of the place. PC Dixon catches Tom coming out of movie house with a gun after the daring robbery, when he goes to arrest Tom he is critically shot. The officer’s death leads to a citywide manhunt, and the finale has the lone criminal cornered after an exciting chase ending up in a crowded dog track.
REVIEWED ON 4/12/2005 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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