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Minggu, 03 April 2011

William Dieterle - The Turning Point (1952)

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Edmond O'Brien stars as an idealistic state's attorney assigned to crack down on a crime syndicate. This proves more dangerous than first suspected, since the syndicate has a number of city officials in its pocket--including the father of one of the investigating committee's chairpersons. William Holden is the crusading newspaperman who attempts to help O'Brien, but even his efforts are compromised by deeply entrenched political corruption. The climax is staged at a crowded boxing arena, where Holden is struck down by an assassin's bullet intended for O'Brien. Inspired by the real-life Senate investigations of 1951, The Turning Point is neither a remake of a 1917 Paramount silent of the same name, nor was the 1977 ballet-oriented Turning Point a remake of the 1952 film.

The review below pretty much nails this one. The crime stuff is pretty entertaining but the dramatic scenes with O'Brien and Holden just aren't that interesting.

O'Brien is a crusading lawyer appointed to head a commission investigating organized crime. He enlists the help of his friend, investigative reporter Holden, and together they uncover proof that Begley is the head of the local crime syndicate. Holden also discovers that Tully, O'Brien's policeman father, is on the take from Begley. To get the commission off his back, Begley orders Tully killed, but this only serves to strengthen O'Brien's resolve. He and Holden also compete for the affections of Smith, long O'Brien's girl, but rapidly succumbing to Holden's easy charm. The commission subpoenas records from Begley that are kept in a tenement building he owns, and rather than let the incriminating documents fall into the hands of O'Brien's civic crusaders, Begley has the building burned down, killing dozens of residents. By now the commission has learned of a female witness to a murder committed by one of Begley's henchmen. While O'Brien frantically tries to find her, Holden is lured to a boxing arena where one of Begley's hired guns awaits him. The two play a deadly game of hide-and-seek, but before the police cars sent by O'Brien can get to Holden, he is shot and dies heroically in Smith's arms. This interesting film noir has good performances by the leads and a terrific villain in Begley. When he orders the building containing the records burned down, his cruelty and vicious greed are almost written on his sweaty face. The actual burning of the building--at night, with screams of the victims hanging in the air--is a real shocker. In most other areas, though, the film is flat and flabby. The scenes with O'Brien and Smith are humdrum, and it's only the crime scenes that take on any life under the direction of Dieterle. Holden was almost through with his contract leading-man status. SUNSET BOULEVARD was behind him, STALAG 17 was next, and he was on the verge of superstardom.

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