The Human Jungle


1h 22m 1954

Brief Synopsis

Danforth (Gary Merrill) is assigned to take over the police department in a section of a large city saddled with juvenile delinquency, petty crimes, graft and also a recent unsolved murder of a strip-tease dancer. Recognizing the laxity of the department he implements many changes and soon finds himself under fire by the newspapers, the attorney of a racket leader and the denizens of this human jungle. He calls this a cop's war that is the same as a soldier's war with the difference being that people hate cops. His cause isn't helped when a rookie policeman accidently kills an innocent bystander. And he has to protect police informer Mary Abbott (Jan Sterling) from Swados (Chuck Connors), a killer in the hire of the man behind the petty mobsters.

Film Details

Also Known As
The Police Story
Release Date
Oct 3, 1954
Premiere Information
World premiere in New Orleans: 28 Sep 1954; Los Angeles opening: 29 Sep 1954
Production Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
7,370ft

Synopsis

Police Captain John "Danny" Danforth, who had intended to leave the police force in three months to become a lawyer, requests permission from Police Chief Abe Rowan to resign immediately as he has a job offer. Rowan is in the midst of an investigation of the murder of a striptease dancer in the city's notorious, crime-ridden Jefferson Heights area. Rowan tells Danny that they can discuss his request as they drive to the Heights' precinct station. Once there, however, they observe a poorly run, demoralized crew being supervised by the aging Capt. Marty Harrison. Danny tells Rowan, who is under great pressure from city officials to clean up the neighborhood, that the precinct is "dead on its feet" and needs a total reorganization. Rowan then suggests that Danny take over the precinct, pointing out that the ensuing publicity could help launch his law career. Danny declines, but Rowan rejects his resignation and assigns him to the job. At home, Danny explains to his worried wife Pat that the job will be for three months only and convinces her to be patient. When Danny takes over the precinct, he regards the solving of the dancer's murder as the primary focus of his plan to rid the neighborhood of criminal elements. After jolting the precinct's crew out of their complacency, Danny works with detective Bob Geddes, his second-in-command, on the murder case. Geddes interrogates suspect Earl Swados, a boyfriend of the murdered woman, but has to release him when Swados states that another stripper, Mary Abbott, can provide an alibi for him. After Danny fights with detective Lannigan over Lannigan's drinking on the job, Danny demotes the detective to walking a beat. Danny then orders all the officers to crack down on criminals and states that he will back up any officer who needs to use force. Later, Danny interviews Mary about Swados' alibi, and learns that she works at a club called The Hut. After his officers close down gambling dens and arrest fences and petty criminals, Danny wins the support of the district attorney and his men become more enthusiastic about their jobs. The crackdowns reveal that most of the illegal activities in the area are controlled by the dapper, older Leonard Ustick, who regards himself as a "small-business man." Swados and another thug, George Mandy, work for Ustick. After Danny visits The Hut and unsuccessfully tries to convince Mary to cooperate with the police, he reassigns the now contrite Lannigan to work undercover at the club and entrap Mary in a prostitution sting. Although she is arrested and booked for prostitution, the embittered Mary refuses to provide evidence about Sawdos and Ustick. Danny's plans are disrupted when detective Strauss is walking home one night and spots a robbery in progress. Strauss shoots at the getaway car and accidentally kills an innocent passerby, causing protests from the citizenry. However, Danny continues his focus on the murder case, picks up Swados again and bluffs him that Mary has retracted her alibi and is cooperating with information about the club and Ustick. At first, Swados does not believe him, but becomes scared when threatened with the electric chair. Danny then frees Swados, but has him followed. When Ustick meets with Swados, he assures him that he will get Mary released from jail and derail Danny's investigation. Following Ustick's orders, Mandy pays three teenage toughs to be beaten up by The Hut's bartender, then claim that the injuries were suffered while they were in police custody. Later, at a police board of enquiry, Ustick's lawyer accuses Danny of ordering the boys beaten, fabricating evidence and being responsible for the slaying of the passerby. Pat suggests to Danny that they could begin his law career in another city, but he refuses to leave. Geddes tells Danny that Ustick's lawyer has arranged Mary's release and that Swados, who thinks she has double-crossed him, has been seen loitering outside her apartment building. When Geddes states that Mary needs protection or relocation to another state, Danny rejects that and is willing to risk Mary's life and have Swados confront her. Although Geddes and Pat disagree with him, Danny is convinced that, with full police surveillance, his plan will work. After setting up recording devices in the apartment next to Mary's, Danny's plan is foiled when Swados leaves a message with the apartment house manager, luring Mary to a party. She takes a taxi to the party's address while Danny and Lannigan follow and Geddes summons additional officers. The taxi drops Mary off at a brewery, where Swados is waiting to kill her. He chases her through the brewery, but is followed by Danny and Lannigan, who save Mary. Danny then pursues Swados to the brewery's roof where, as several squad cars arrive, he panics, surrenders and promises to expose Ustick's rackets. As Danny then wants to go home to Pat, he asks Geddes to take Swados' statement, but assures him that he will be back on the job in the morning and that he will be staying there for the foreseeable future.

Cast

Gary Merrill

Capt. John "Danny" Danforth

Jan Sterling

Mary Abbott

Paula Raymond

Pat Danforth

Emile Meyer

Police Chief Abe Rowan

Regis Toomey

Detective Bob Geddes

Lamont Johnson

Detective Lannigan

Chuck Connors

Earl Swados

Pat Waltz

Detective Strauss

George Wallace

O'Neil

Chubby Johnson

Greenie

James Westerfield

Capt. Marty Harrison

Don Keefer

Cleary

Rankin Mansfield

Bledsoe

Than Wyenn

Forger

Claude Akins

George Mandy

Charles Cane

Simpkins

Florenz Ames

Leonard Ustick

Joe Turkel

Hood

Cy Warner

Hood

Wayne Heffley

Hood

Nicky Blair

Hood

John Lomma

Hood/punk

William Tannen

Cab driver

John Ayres

Doctor

Eddie Ryder

Youngster

Jack Clinton

Detective

Michael Emmet

Uniform cop

Kevin Enright

Uniform cop

Paul Hoffman

Hackie

Jerry Zinnamon

Hunkie

Wilbur Mack

Passerby

Margaret Bert

Passerby

Rory Mallinson

Passerby

David De Haven

Burglar

Booth Colman

Wallace

Howard Hoffman

District Attorney

Anna Navarro

Waitress

Phil Arnold

Bum

Leo T. Cleary

Karns

Tony De Mario

Flash

Bert Holland

Clerk

Lester Dorr

Salesman

Ken Miller

Oldest boy

Speer Martin

Youngest boy

Al Hill

Painter

John Pickard

Examiner

Robert Pike

News

Vince Barnett

Heffner

Marjorie Bennett

Mrs. Lee

Marie Blake

Mrs. Ashton

Ed Ingram

Cop

Ford Rainey

Jones, the older cop

Henry Kulky

Bartender-bouncer

Shirley Rickert

Stripper

Kathy Marlowe

Vody

Joey Ray

Technician

Sonia Werner

Twin girl

Sandra Werner

Twin girl

Hugh Boswell

Lynch

Martha Wentworth

Janitress

Julie Desmond

Eleanor Moore

Felice Richmond

Tom Moore

Robert E. Griffin

Meyer Grace

Ed Andrews

Frank Hagney

Film Details

Also Known As
The Police Story
Release Date
Oct 3, 1954
Premiere Information
World premiere in New Orleans: 28 Sep 1954; Los Angeles opening: 29 Sep 1954
Production Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Allied Artists Pictures Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 22m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1
Film Length
7,370ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

This film's working title was The Police Story. The CBCS adds Dan Ullman to the screenplay credits, but his name is not included in other sources. A television adaptation of the film, starring Dennis O'Keefe and Joan Vohs, appeared on Lux Video Theatre on October 20, 1955.