The Blue Lamp (1950)
Before Jack Warner played P.C. George Dixon in 432 episodes of Dixon of Docks Green he portrayed the character in this award winning film from Ealing Studios.
It’s this black and white police thriller that has been assigned to me by Kristina over at Speakeasy. It’s when two movie lovers challenge the other to a film they may not normally have watched without a push from the other. Previous challenges may be checked out here.
What we have here is a film a bit similar in tone to The Naked City. It follows the life of an everyday patrolman played by Warner and a new recruit on the beat portrayed by Jimmy Hanley. Warner is six months away from retiring and living comfortably with his wife while our young rookie is learning the ropes under the veteran’s guidance.
There’s a parallel story going on here with a young runaway played by Peggy Evans who is caught up in a relationship with a small time hood played by Dirk Bogarde. Dirk’s a loose cannon and out to make a fast buck. It’s a home invasion where he runs off with the keys to a jewelery store that sets the course of the film’s direction.
Bernard Lee makes his appearance as a police inspector looking into the jewelry store robbery while at the same time Bogarde has landed himself a gun. He’s now more threatening than ever to both the public and his girl Evans.
The inevitable is about to happen. Guns and robberies are a bad mix. When confronted by one of our policemen face on while coming out of a theater box office loot in hand, he shoots down an officer of the law.
The film then moves through the steps in tracking down the unknown killer and piecing the evidence together in order for the police to get their man. Lee of Bond fame is in charge of the investigation while our young rookie comes up with a key piece of evidence. Bogarde who is chillingly effective here does his best to outsmart the police and lay an alibi at their feet. Perhaps the tail that Lee puts on him will turn something up.
It’s the location filming on the city streets that gives this film some of it’s flavor and adds greatly to it’s authenticity. The actors involved are all well suited to their roles from the elder statesman Warner to the new kid on the force in Hanley. But it is of course Bogarde who gets the key role here of the cold blooded killer. He’s on the edge throughout the film which keeps us squarely on the edge of our seat as the violence he is capable of can come forward at anytime.
Peggy Evans as his girlfriend can attest to that and does a wonderful job conveying the fear that she experiences whenever in his presence.
The Blue Lamp of the title figures prominently in the fade out of the movie from director Basil Dearden. Dearden was a busy man through the forties and fifties with his pace slowing a bit in the sixties with films like Khartoum starring……. yes sir, Charlton Heston cameo time.
One film of Dearden’s I like to recommend when given the chance is The League of Gentleman.
While watching films I am always looking for a line or two to share and label as my favorite from any given film. This time out we have a hysterical young woman screaming at her door “It’s Murder!” Running to her aid is our new officer Hanley responding with a very British “Oh dear.”
I was really unaware of this title but thanks to Kristina at Speakeasy that has been rectified. For me it’s Bogarde who delivers the impact of the film upon the viewer with the remainder of the cast giving us a fine ensemble piece. Give it a try.
Now head over to Speakeasy and check out one of those early Alec Guinness classics that Kristina had yet to see.