This day in the life tale of a Scotland Yard inspector may not be the most talked about title of the great John Ford’s career. But who cares, it’s an engaging and at times light romp that allowed Ford to direct the wonderful screen presence of Jack Hawkins on camera in the title role.
As the credits roll over the opening glimpses of life in London, Ford allows the camera to capture a magnificent shot of Hawkins with his pipe peering out of a window. And so the narrating begins wisely utilizing the power of Hawkins voice.
He’s a family man with Anna Lee as his wife and young Anna Massey as his teenage daughter. He’s a family man with all the same joys and problems that any other home may experience. His main problem is the fact that he’s on call 24/7. He’s about to experience a long day on the job covering everything from murder, robbery and bribes, a drink in a local pub to the cod fish he’s to remember to bring home for dinner.
Right from the start he’s has to play rough when he accuses one of his officers of accepting bribes and cornering the officers wife about the life of luxury in which they live. Things get even more complicated when that same crooked copper is run down in the street. Murder? That’s what Hawkins is determined to find out.
There’s also a robbery that may somehow be connected to the officer’s death.
While this is going on, Laurence Naismith appears as an escaped patient from a hospital ward who has a taste for young ladies. It’s another vignette in this 90 minute excursion that sees police procedure put to the test.
Along the way, there are plenty of Ford(ian) comical touches like a recurring young officer in the story line who has a knack for handing out citations for illegal driving habits. The problem is he seems to be handing most of them out to his superiors. This whole bit of business ties the film together wonderfully from the opening scenes to the last. Even more so when it’s the young officer played by Andrew Ray who continually pops up in Hawkins’ day in the least expected places.
The best scene for our leading man comes as he confronts a young couple (2nd billed Dianne Foster and Ronald Howard) of their impending arrest and should they decide to shoot him just what really happens on the way to the gallows. This five minute clip alone is enough to seek out this rare Ford flick which thankfully turned up on the TCM Vault collection of Ford titles released through the Columbia banner.
Sure there seems to be way to much going on in one day here and the fact that all the cases come to a conclusion might even be a bit of a stretch, it’s still an entertaining piece from a couple of Jack’s.
Included in here is another comedy bit featuring the lovable Miles Malleson as a judge who doesn’t take to excuses lightly in his courtroom. Miles is one of those delightful scene stealers who makes every British film that much more enjoyable. John Loder also makes an appearance here which reunites both him and Anna Lee with Ford. They had both worked with him in the 1941 classic, How Green Was My Valley.
Apparently this Ford effort was also released under the title, Gideon of Scotland Yard. While it may not be recalled by many as a Ford film, one could argue it is far more enjoyable then many of his more notable productions. It has that feeling of the little film trying to make good and is worth seeking out.
For more than just fans of Ford and Hawkins but in the end a must for those of us who are.