It’s 1949 in Los Angeles, and when a police detective is shot down in cold blood, his former partner goes into action. Mike Conovon (Van Johnson) wants to clear his former friend of charges that he was on the take. The plainclothes officer was gunned down in front of a bookie joint and found with $1,000 cash in his pockets.
“Scene of the Crime” falls somewhere between a police procedural (like “Dragnet”) and your traditional film noir. Conovon is married to a beautiful woman (Arlene Dahl) who would like to see her husband give up street work and go into private service as head of security with a large steel firm. While investigating the detective’s death, Conovon is drawn into the arms of a beautiful stripper played by the sultry Gloria DeHaven. She’s the best thing about the film. DeHaven generates plenty of heat in a role that should have been expanded.
Johnson plays his part in a low-key way that was his usual acting style. The story is decorated with some colorful characters from the criminal world. Norman Lloyd is a standout as an eccentric stoolie called Sleeper.
“Scene of the Crime” is full of familiar faces from the movies of decades past. It’s not all that exciting. But, it’s worth a look, if for no other reason, than to see DeHaven’s smoky performance. Grade: B-
Street Date: January 8, 2013
Format: DVD on Demand from WarnerArchive.com
Runtime: 94 minutes
Black and White, 1949