The Blue Lamp


1h 24m 1950

Brief Synopsis

A London Bobbie goes after the crooks who shot his partner.

Film Details

Also Known As
Blue Lamp, The
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
1950

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

We follow the daily activities of two London bobbies, veteran George Dixon and rookie Andy Mitchell. Meanwhile, young hoods Tom and Spud plan a series of robberies with Tom's girl Diana, a discontented beauty, as inside worker. But in their second crime, one of our heroes is shot, setting off a citywide manhunt. The killer is clever, but will he outsmart himself?

Film Details

Also Known As
Blue Lamp, The
Genre
Drama
Crime
Mystery
Release Date
1950

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 24m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

The Blue Lamp


In the aftermath of World War II, England saw a rise in crime in its urban areas as well as a new breed of criminal who was more reckless and dangerous than the organized gangsters of old. The Blue Lamp (1950) was an attempt to address this topical concern but also intended as a tribute to the police forces in Britain who often risked their lives in the line of service. More importantly, the film took a documentary-styled approach to its subject matter as Jules Dassin had done the previous year with his influential noir, The Naked City, giving the film a sense of gritty realism. Even today, The Blue Lamp is considered one of the best of the Britain police dramas released in the post-war years. It is also significant as a turning point for Dirk Bogarde, who excelled in his first major dramatic role, and led Rank, where he was a contract player, to build up his career as a leading man.

The film, directed by Basil Dearden, combines elements of the chase thriller with a revenge drama and opens with a familiar scenario: a soon to retire London bobby is training a new recruit to take over his beat. The new recruit, Andy Mitchell, is put to the test when he rushes to the scene of a recent robbery committed by two young hoodlums, Tom and Spud. The criminal duo, having already escaped, stage a second robbery soon after but are confronted by policeman George Dixon, Andy's partner, before they can make their getaway. Tom shoots and severely wounds Dixon, leaving Mitchell and his fellow officers to track down the two hoodlums before they can strike again.

It was the intention of both producer Michael Relph and Dearden to weave topical social issues into the narrative and Dirk Bogarde would later remark it was "the first of what we would call today cinema verite: the first true, on-location movie we had ever made" [in England]. The Blue Lamp was also a defining experience for Bogarde who said, "Dearden pointed me in the right direction with his illuminating, over-simplified, approach to the camera. It was the first time I came near to giving a cinema performance in any kind of depth: I think it had some light and shade, whereas the work which had gone before was cardboard and one dimensional. I have never been an extrovert actor, always an introvert; instinctive rather than histrionic, and in this semi-documentary method of working I discovered, to my amazement and lasting delight, that the camera actually photographed the mind process however hesitant it was, however awkward. It had never, of course, occurred to me before, since I had very little mind of my own; but the people I had played had minds, of some sort or another, and I became completely absorbed in trying to find those minds and offer them up to the camera. I was never to be satisfied again with a one-dimension performance. And neither was the camera, which now became the centre of my whole endeavour."

While The Blue Lamp helped launch Bogarde's career as a leading man at Rank, it took several years before he was able to break out of the matinee idol stage which would be established in films such as So Long at the Fair (1950), Penny Princess (1952) and Doctor in the House (1954). It was not until Cast a Dark Shadow (1955), in which he played a lady-killer – a real one – that Bogarde began to slowly acquire a reputation as a serious and acclaimed film actor.

Like Bogarde, Basil Dearden's reputation as a director was also elevated by the success of The Blue Lamp, which was produced by Ealing Studios. He was one of the more gifted, younger filmmakers of his generation but it would also be several years before he began to hit his stride with such controversial and internationally acclaimed films as Sapphire (1959) and Victim (1961), which garnered Best Director and Best Actor (Dirk Bogarde) nominations by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA).

Upon release, The Blue Lamp was hailed by most British film critics who noted some of the film's finer points such as its depiction of a certain moral hierarchy within the criminal underworld and how the climax bore some similarities to Fritz Lang's groundbreaking M (1931). Dilys Powell in The Sunday Times wrote: "The real hero of the piece, in fact, is the police force: and for once we are given an authentic police station, an accurate picture of the man on the beat and the detective...its style seems to me at least as distinctive, and as well worth study, as the celebrated 'documentary' style of Hollywood's The Naked City." Other reviewers singled out Bogarde for praise such as The Times - "Dirk Bogarde, as a representative of the new type of criminal, the reckless youth with a kink in his mind, gives an admirable performance" and the Sunday Express: "Dirk Bogarde's young gangster is a fine bit of work. This young actor needs parts in which he can move."

The Blue Lamp was equally well received in the U.S. where the New York Times review was typical of its general assessment here: "Full of fresh human interest touches, as well as honest admiration for the police, this film combines lively entertainment with a solid chunk of social argument...T.E.B. Clarke has written a most fluid and cleverly jointed script and Basil Dearden has directed it in a stunningly naturalistic style." Seen today, The Blue Lamp doesn't hold up as well as The Naked City and actually looks like it was made ten years before the latter picture which influenced it. Part of this is due to the much more modern urban environment of New York City as compared to post-war London but there is also a cultural difference. The police precinct in The Naked City is a bustling, intense workplace whereas in The Blue Lamp the London bobbies often have leisure time to take tea and play darts! Still, the latter film marked an important move toward a more cinema verite approach to British filmmaking and a spotlight role for the rising young star, Dirk Bogarde.

Producer: Michael Balcon
Director: Basil Dearden
Screenplay: T.E.B. Clarke; Alexander Mackendrick (additional dialogue); Jan Read, Ted Willis (original treatment)
Cinematography: Gordon Dines
Art Direction: Jim Morahan
Film Editing: Peter Tanner
Cast: Jack Warner (PC George Dixon), Jimmy Hanley (PC Andy Mitchell), Dirk Bogarde (Tom Riley), Robert Flemyng (Sgt. Roberts), Bernard Lee (Insp. Cherry), Peggy Evans (Diana Lewis), Patric Doonan (Spud), Bruce Seton (PC Campbell), Meredith Edwards (PC Hughes), Clive Morton (Sgt. Brooks), Frederick Piper (Alf Lewis), Dora Bryan (Maisie), Gladys Henson (Mrs. Dixon), Tessie O'Shea (Herself).
BW-84m.

by Jeff Stafford

SOURCES:
Dirk Bogarde: The Authorized Biography by John Coldstream
The Films of Dirk Bogarde by Margaret Hinxman and Susan d'Arcy
www.screenonline.org.uk/
www.afi.com
The Blue Lamp

The Blue Lamp

In the aftermath of World War II, England saw a rise in crime in its urban areas as well as a new breed of criminal who was more reckless and dangerous than the organized gangsters of old. The Blue Lamp (1950) was an attempt to address this topical concern but also intended as a tribute to the police forces in Britain who often risked their lives in the line of service. More importantly, the film took a documentary-styled approach to its subject matter as Jules Dassin had done the previous year with his influential noir, The Naked City, giving the film a sense of gritty realism. Even today, The Blue Lamp is considered one of the best of the Britain police dramas released in the post-war years. It is also significant as a turning point for Dirk Bogarde, who excelled in his first major dramatic role, and led Rank, where he was a contract player, to build up his career as a leading man. The film, directed by Basil Dearden, combines elements of the chase thriller with a revenge drama and opens with a familiar scenario: a soon to retire London bobby is training a new recruit to take over his beat. The new recruit, Andy Mitchell, is put to the test when he rushes to the scene of a recent robbery committed by two young hoodlums, Tom and Spud. The criminal duo, having already escaped, stage a second robbery soon after but are confronted by policeman George Dixon, Andy's partner, before they can make their getaway. Tom shoots and severely wounds Dixon, leaving Mitchell and his fellow officers to track down the two hoodlums before they can strike again. It was the intention of both producer Michael Relph and Dearden to weave topical social issues into the narrative and Dirk Bogarde would later remark it was "the first of what we would call today cinema verite: the first true, on-location movie we had ever made" [in England]. The Blue Lamp was also a defining experience for Bogarde who said, "Dearden pointed me in the right direction with his illuminating, over-simplified, approach to the camera. It was the first time I came near to giving a cinema performance in any kind of depth: I think it had some light and shade, whereas the work which had gone before was cardboard and one dimensional. I have never been an extrovert actor, always an introvert; instinctive rather than histrionic, and in this semi-documentary method of working I discovered, to my amazement and lasting delight, that the camera actually photographed the mind process however hesitant it was, however awkward. It had never, of course, occurred to me before, since I had very little mind of my own; but the people I had played had minds, of some sort or another, and I became completely absorbed in trying to find those minds and offer them up to the camera. I was never to be satisfied again with a one-dimension performance. And neither was the camera, which now became the centre of my whole endeavour." While The Blue Lamp helped launch Bogarde's career as a leading man at Rank, it took several years before he was able to break out of the matinee idol stage which would be established in films such as So Long at the Fair (1950), Penny Princess (1952) and Doctor in the House (1954). It was not until Cast a Dark Shadow (1955), in which he played a lady-killer – a real one – that Bogarde began to slowly acquire a reputation as a serious and acclaimed film actor. Like Bogarde, Basil Dearden's reputation as a director was also elevated by the success of The Blue Lamp, which was produced by Ealing Studios. He was one of the more gifted, younger filmmakers of his generation but it would also be several years before he began to hit his stride with such controversial and internationally acclaimed films as Sapphire (1959) and Victim (1961), which garnered Best Director and Best Actor (Dirk Bogarde) nominations by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA). Upon release, The Blue Lamp was hailed by most British film critics who noted some of the film's finer points such as its depiction of a certain moral hierarchy within the criminal underworld and how the climax bore some similarities to Fritz Lang's groundbreaking M (1931). Dilys Powell in The Sunday Times wrote: "The real hero of the piece, in fact, is the police force: and for once we are given an authentic police station, an accurate picture of the man on the beat and the detective...its style seems to me at least as distinctive, and as well worth study, as the celebrated 'documentary' style of Hollywood's The Naked City." Other reviewers singled out Bogarde for praise such as The Times - "Dirk Bogarde, as a representative of the new type of criminal, the reckless youth with a kink in his mind, gives an admirable performance" and the Sunday Express: "Dirk Bogarde's young gangster is a fine bit of work. This young actor needs parts in which he can move." The Blue Lamp was equally well received in the U.S. where the New York Times review was typical of its general assessment here: "Full of fresh human interest touches, as well as honest admiration for the police, this film combines lively entertainment with a solid chunk of social argument...T.E.B. Clarke has written a most fluid and cleverly jointed script and Basil Dearden has directed it in a stunningly naturalistic style." Seen today, The Blue Lamp doesn't hold up as well as The Naked City and actually looks like it was made ten years before the latter picture which influenced it. Part of this is due to the much more modern urban environment of New York City as compared to post-war London but there is also a cultural difference. The police precinct in The Naked City is a bustling, intense workplace whereas in The Blue Lamp the London bobbies often have leisure time to take tea and play darts! Still, the latter film marked an important move toward a more cinema verite approach to British filmmaking and a spotlight role for the rising young star, Dirk Bogarde. Producer: Michael Balcon Director: Basil Dearden Screenplay: T.E.B. Clarke; Alexander Mackendrick (additional dialogue); Jan Read, Ted Willis (original treatment) Cinematography: Gordon Dines Art Direction: Jim Morahan Film Editing: Peter Tanner Cast: Jack Warner (PC George Dixon), Jimmy Hanley (PC Andy Mitchell), Dirk Bogarde (Tom Riley), Robert Flemyng (Sgt. Roberts), Bernard Lee (Insp. Cherry), Peggy Evans (Diana Lewis), Patric Doonan (Spud), Bruce Seton (PC Campbell), Meredith Edwards (PC Hughes), Clive Morton (Sgt. Brooks), Frederick Piper (Alf Lewis), Dora Bryan (Maisie), Gladys Henson (Mrs. Dixon), Tessie O'Shea (Herself). BW-84m. by Jeff Stafford SOURCES: Dirk Bogarde: The Authorized Biography by John Coldstream The Films of Dirk Bogarde by Margaret Hinxman and Susan d'Arcy www.screenonline.org.uk/ www.afi.com

Quotes

What d'ye think I am? Soft or something?
- Diana Lewis
Yeah.
- Spud

Trivia

Even though George Dixon is killed in this movie he managed to star in the spin off TV series "Dixon of Dock Green" (1955).

The first film to use the word "Bastard" in it's dialogue.