Movie: The Turning Point (1952)

There’s an odd recurring trope in noir movies where a reporter takes the initiative to do the kind of investigations it seems police should be handling.  In 1952’s The Turning Point, William Holden plays a newspaper reporter who, for whatever reason, keeps doing what should be his friend’s job, namely that of special prosecutor.

That friend is played by noir staple Edmond O’Brien.  This character’s life is like some surreal country song.  His girl obviously has a thing for his best friend, the reporter.  His dad is part of the crime syndicate he is trying to bring down.  If he had a dog, it would probably call him a loser and steal his truck.

The syndicate he is trying to destroy is headed by Ed Begley.  I like Begley, but I gotta admit that, every time I see him in something, I wonder how he is the father of Ed Begley Jr.  Maybe junior takes after his mom.

Begley is the head of the Eichelberger gang.  Memo to self: if I ever decide to lead an organized crime operation, give it a name the dimmest thug in the organization can actually pronounce.

The first two acts of the film are just so-so.  If anything, the dialogue is bit clunky, with lines like “Where did you get the idea that diploma you got from journalism school makes you different from anybody else?”  An exchange I can only assume was intended to be witty goes like this: “Don’t you think the police dept takes care of his own?”  “Let’s both try to think of an answer”.  OK—my answer is…yes?

The final third is where the movie shines.  In a packed boxing arena, Holden is oblivious to the sniper in the rafters waiting to take him out.  The scene is very tense, and the rafters, as lit from below, make this a solid noir moment.

I just wish the entire picture had been as good as this.  Still, it is above average and will be enjoyed by genre fans.

Dir: William Dieterle

Starring Edmund O’Brien, William Holden, Alexis Smith

Watched on Kino Lorber blu-ray