Cast & Crew
Spurred by a newspaper exposé detailing an illegal horse race betting syndicate in Brooklyn that operates under police protection, District Attorney Michael W. Norris springs into action to checkmate the syndicate. To circumvent the crooked police officers in the crime ring's employ, Norris takes command of forty rookies who have just graduated from the police academy. Among them are the ambitious Pete Harris and his friend, Jess Johnson. Pete temporarily leaves his wife Jane to work undercover and gain the confidence of Brooklyn garage owner Lil Polombo, whose husband committed suicide after the syndicate threatened his life for failing to pay overdue gambling debts. After renting an apartment in Lil's neighborhood, Pete, posing as a recent transplant from California, goes to Lil's garage to rent a parking spot and proceeds to the local bar to inquire about placing a bet on a horse. Soon after, Lil comes to the bar and is joined by Rudi Franklin, the driver for a laundry that serves as a front for the syndicate. When Pete lies to Lil that he lived in the neighborhood as a child and attended school with her, he wins the confidence of the bartender who then directs him to a "horse room" in back of the barber shop. Jess, alerted by Pete to the location of the horse room, then sneaks into the alley to place a tape recorder onto its phone line. As Jess sneaks out of the alley, he is spotted by Finelli, the man in charge of the horse rooms. Once the line is tapped, Norris orders a reorganization of the officers on the beat, hoping that the shake up will force the syndicate to phone the corrupt officers in its employ. After Rudi's former contact is replaced by Sgt. Bonney, Rudi meets Bonney in a steam room and tells him about the intruder in the alley. Jess, now aware that he has been detected, is reluctant to pick up the tape that night, but the brash Pete goads him into returning to the alley. Before going there, Pete takes Lil on a date, and after dropping her off at her apartment, passionately kisses her. Later, Pete drives Jess to pick up the tape. As Jess approaches the phone box, Bonney shoots and kills him. Blaming himself for his partner's death, Pete jumps out of the car and apprehends Bonney, then takes him to Norris. When Bonney denies "being on the take," Norris plays back a recording of a conversation in which Finelli identifies Bonney as his new police contact. Unable to face the consequences of his actions, Bonney jumps to his death out the window. Now even more determined to smash the syndicate, Pete decides to defy Norris' orders and implement his own scheme to flush out the syndicate enforcers. After Pete deliberately gives Finelli a bad check, two of Finelli's thugs come to Pete's apartment and are greeted by Pete, gun in hand, who then calls the police. When the thugs jump Pete, he runs into the street and they follow and beat him up, leaving him lying unconscious just as the police appear. Lil, who has a date with Pete, becomes worried when he fails to appear and so decides to go to his apartment. As she arrives, the phone rings, and when she answers it, Jane asks to speak to her husband. After claiming that Jane has the wrong number, a rattled Lil slams down the receiver, then ascertains Pete's real address from the phone book. As Lil is about to leave, she encounters the landlady, who informs her that the police have taken Pete to jail. Assuming that Pete is drunk, the police take him to headquarters where he is questioned by Capt. P. T. Wills, the corrupt officer in charge. Lil, meanwhile, proceeds to Pete's apartment where she tells Jane that her husband is in jail. Lil then goes to her local bar, and, after getting drunk, tells Rudi that Pete has been deceiving them. Rudi immediately alerts Wills, who then discovers that Pete is a police officer. Wills passes the information along to Rudi, who dispatches two men to "bug" Pete's apartment. After he is released from jail, Pete returns home where Jane blames him for Jess's death and chastises him for betraying Lil. Tricked by the Rudi into thinking that his phone is out of order, Pete notifies the telephone company service department. The call is intercepted by Rudi's thugs, and soon after, one of them, dressed in a telephone repairman uniform, delivers a new phone to Pete's apartment. A bomb is concealed inside, and once the serviceman leaves, Rudi dials the number. As Jane picks up the receiver, the bomb explodes, killing her. Taking the law into his own hands, Pete breaks into Lil's apartment and forces to admit that she told Rudi that Pete was an impostor. Realizing that Rudi is working for the syndicate, Pete orders Lil to contact Rudi and invite him to the apartment. When Rudi arrives, Pete listens from the back room as Lil accuses Rudi of killing both her husband and Jane. After threatening Lil, Rudi drives off in his laundry truck unaware that Pete is hiding in back. Rudi stops to pick up Wills, who has demanded to meet the head of the syndicate. Norris, who has become suspicious of Wills, has assigned a squad car to tail him. At the laundry, Wills meets Ralph Edmondson, head of the crime ring. Declaring that he is "fed up" with the violence, Wills announces that he plans to resign from the police force. Rudi, meanwhile catches Pete sneaking around the laundry and takes him to Edmondson. After Edmondson tells Rudi to kill Pete, Wills takes Edmondson hostage and orders Rudi to drop his gun. When Rudi turns to shoot Wills, Pete escapes and runs out into the laundry plant with Rudi firing his pistol in pursuit. Just as Rudi is closing in, Pete retrieves Will's discarded gun and shoots him. The police then arrive and take the wounded Pete to the hospital. With Edmondson's arrest, the crime ring is foiled, allowing Norris to bring his investigation to a close.
Thomas B. Henry
Franklin Hansen Jr.
Fred Jackman [jr.]
Raymond T. Marcus
Charles H. Schneer
Alfred E. Spencer
Daniel B. Ullman
The Case Against Brooklyn - The Case Against Brooklyn
Darren McGavin stars as a rookie cop and Korean War veteran who volunteers to go "on the pad" to smash a ring of bookmakers who have the NYPD in its back pocket. A "man inside" drama in the long-lived crime film tradition of Raoul Walsh's White Heat (1949) and Martin Scorsese's The Departed (2006), The Case Against Brooklyn also avails itself of a verisimilitous narration à la The Naked City (1948) and some plot points cadged from Fritz Lang's The Big Heat (1953).
While clearly a product of its time, The Case Against Brooklyn was an atypical project for Morningside Productions, founded by Charles H. Schneer and his producing partner, stop motion pioneer Ray Harryhausen. Beginning with It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955), Schneer and Harryhausen specialized in outsized monsters and invading ETs flattening balsawood cities before they moved on to the mythical charms of The 7th Voyage of Sinbad (1958) and Jason and the Argonauts (1963). Because Harryhausen's animation took so long to execute, Schneer squeezed in side projects. Directed by Paul Wendkos in follow-up to his noirish The Burglar (1957), The Case Against Brooklyn had been scripted by blacklisted Hollywood writer Bernard Gordon, under the pseudonym "Raymond T. Marcus." Subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee but never called to testify, Gordon had been named as a Communist sympathizer by writer-producer William Alland and was subsequently blacklisted. After working briefly outside of Hollywood as a plastics salesman, Gordon accepted Schneer's invitation to bang out scripts for Morningside under an alias. He later quit the country for Europe, where he scripted such overseas projects as 55 Days at Peking (1963) and Battle of the Bulge (1965). Proper credit for Gordon's pseudonymous work was restored in 1997. Two years later, he criticized The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for awarding an honorary Oscar® to Elia Kazan, a friendly HUAC witness. Gordon authored two memoirs about his experiences as a blacklisted Hollywood writer prior to his death in May 2007.
A former set painter who parlayed a walk-on part in Charles Vidor's A Song to Remember (1945) into a more than fifty-year career, Darren McGavin made a vivid impression as a loud but harmless American tourist in David Lean's Summertime (1955) with Katharine Hepburn and as a heroine addict whose friendship spells trouble for ex-junkie Frank Sinatra in The Man with the Golden Arm (1955). Yet McGavin's fate was effectively sealed in 1951 when the Columbia Broadcasting Company brought him in to replace Richard Carlyle as the star of Crime Photographer. As Jack "Flashgun" Casey (a character created by former newspaperman George Harmon Coxe and introduced in a 1934 issue of the pulp magazine Black Mask), McGavin began a long association with investigator types. In 1958-59, he was Mike Hammer, Mickey Spillane's hard-boiled private dick, for 79 half hour episodes; ten years later, he was The Outsider, another world-weary gumshoe, for the National Broadcasting Company. Of course, McGavin is chiefly remembered today for playing garrulous Chicago journalist Carl Kolchak, who ran down paranormal occurrences of every stripe in the highly-rated TV movies The Night Stalker (1972) and The Night Strangler (1973), and for a single season on NBC's spin-off series. As he aged (the actor was pushing fifty when he played Kolchak for the first time), McGavin dialed down the machismo in favor of comedy but The Case Against Brooklyn finds him in true two-fisted mode and ready to rumble with a supporting cast of Hollywood heavies that includes dapper Warren Stevens and serpentine Joe Turkel. Largely retired from acting after he suffered a debilitating stroke in 1999, Darren McGavin died of natural causes in February 2006, at the age of 83.
Producer: Charles H. Schneer
Director: Paul Wendkos
Screenplay: Raymond T. Marcus; Daniel B. Ullman (screen story); Ed Reid (book "I Broke the Brooklyn Graft Scandal"); Julian Zimet (screenplay, originally uncredited)
Cinematography: Fred Jackman Jr.
Music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff
Film Editing: Edwin H. Bryant
Cast: Darren McGavin (Pete Harris), Maggie Hayes (Lil Polombo nee Alexander), Warren Stevens (Rudi Franklin), Peggy McCay (Mrs. Jane Harris), Tol Avery (Dist. Atty. Michael W. Norris), Emile Meyer (Police Capt. T.W. Wills), Nestor Paiva (Finelli), Brian Hutton (Jess Johnson), Robert Osterloh (Det. Sgt. Bonney), Joe Turkel (Henchman Monte), Bobby Helms (Himself, Vocalist).
by Richard Harland Smith
Hollywood Blacklist, or How I Learned to Love the Blacklist by Bernard Gordon
The Gordon File: A Screenwriter Recalls Twenty Years of FBI Surveillance by Bernard Gordon
Charles Schneer obituary by Margalit Fox, The New York Times
Bernard Gordon obituary by Tom Vallance, The Independent
Darren McGavin obituary by Michael Carlson, The Guardian
Flashgun Casey, Crime Photographer: From the Pulps to Radio and Beyond by J. Randolph Cox and David S. Siegel
The Case Against Brooklyn - The Case Against Brooklyn
"District Attorney Michael W. Norris" provides a sporadic voice-over narration throughout the film. Although a May 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item stated that Harry Essex wrote the screen story with Daniel B. Ullman, the extent of Essex' contribution to the film has not been determined. According to a January 1958 Hollywood Reporter news item, a song titled "Living in the Shadow of the Past" was recorded for inclusion in the film, but it was not performed in the viewed print. Although a Hollywood Reporter production chart places Ainslie Pryor in the cast, his appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. A letter from blacklisted screenwriter Bernard Gordon contained in the film's production file at the AMPAS Library and the WGA confirm that Gordon wrote the screenplay for the film using the pseudonym Raymond T. Marcus. In addition, the WGA restored the credit for Gordon's co-writer Julian Zimet.