Scene of the Crime


1h 34m 1949
Scene of the Crime

Brief Synopsis

A detective tries to solve a policeman's murder.

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Mystery
Film Noir
Release Date
Aug 26, 1949
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Jul 1949
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Synopsis

Late one night, on a Los Angeles city street, a plainclothes policeman is murdered in front of a young couple. When it is learned that the murdered man, Ed Monigan, was robbed of $1,000, police captain Forster suspects that Monigan was on the take and involved in an illicit gambling ring that is operating out of a nearby cigar store, and that his murder is somehow connected to a new betting operation that is trying to take over all the bookies in the city. When police detective Mike Conovan is summoned to the crime scene, he disputes the captain's theory, and is certain that Monigan was not involved in any illegal activities. The captain assigns Mike to the case, along with veteran detective Fred Piper and a young rookie nicknamed C. C. The three detectives begin their investigation, with their only clues coming from the eyewitnesses, who described the killer as being left-handed and having a mottled face. In the hope of learning more about the killer, Mike questions a police informant named Sleeper about Arthur Webson, a known gambling ring operator, and any new associates Webson may have acquired. Though the interrogation provides no new leads, C. C. finds a matchbook in Sleeper's possession, in which the names Turk Kingby and Lafe Douque are inscribed. After adding Kingby and Douque to the list of possible suspects or accomplices, Mike pays a friendly visit to Monigan's son Ed. Ed angrily blames Mike for his father's death, claiming that he would not have placed himself in such a dangerous position had he not been trying to prove himself to Mike. Ed then asks Mike to devote himself to clearing his father's good name. While searching for Kingby, Mike and C. C. witness two men forcing a man into a car. They follow the car to a warehouse, which is guarded by Umpire Menafoe, a former distillery operator and head of the bookie operations in the city. Menafoe, an old friend of Mike, allows Mike to watch a group of bookies line up suspects thought to be involved in a series of holdups. Later, Sleeper tells Mike that Kingby and Douque are part of a gang known as the Royalty Boys, and that they served time in Wallaby Prison. When Mike and Piper visit a private investigator named Pontiac, he tells them that Kingby had been associating with a "sizzler" named Lili, who was a burlesque dancer at the Club Fol-de-Rol. Mike visits Lili at the club and cultivates her trust by taking her to the movies and spending time with her. Later, Mike's wife Gloria makes a failed attempt to convince her husband to quit his dangerous work and take a safer job at a steel plant. After secretly planting a hidden microphone on a gangster named Hippo, Mike and some other detectives listen in on a conversation in which Douque confesses to killing a police officer. Douque, however, is killed shortly thereafter. When Hippo tells Mike that Kingby is planning to make a "big hit" against the bookie organization that killed Douque, Captain Forster sets out to snare the killers. Before the criminals are captured, however, Piper succumbs to a trap set by the killers and dies. Realizing that Lili must have tipped off the hitmen, Mike goes to the nightclub and demands an explanation. Lili confesses that she loves Kingby and that she set up all the murders to protect him. When Kingby is finally captured, Mike discovers that he used a special rubber glove to make himself appear to be left-handed, and that he used shoe polish to mottle his face. With the case solved, Mike is finally able to devote his attentions to Gloria.

Cast

Van Johnson

Mike Conovan

Arlene Dahl

Gloria Conovan

Gloria De Haven

Lili

Tom Drake

C. C.

Leon Ames

Captain A. C. Forster

John Mcintire

Fred Piper

Donald Woods

[Bob] Herkimer

Norman Lloyd

Sleeper

Jerome Cowan

Webson

Tom Powers

Umpire Menafoe

Richard Benedict

Turk Kingby

Anthony Caruso

Tony Rutzo

Robert Gist

Pontiac

Romo Vincent

Hippo

Tom Helmore

Norrie Lorfield

Caleb Peterson

Loomis

William Haade

Lafe Douque

Mickey Kuhn

Editor Monigan

G. Pat Collins

Monigan

Ray Teal

Patrolman

Don Haggerty

Detective

Allen Mathews

Detective

Gregg Barton

Detective

Mickey Mccardle

Detective

James R. Scott

Detective

William J. Tannen

Detectve

Paul Fierro

Detective

Anthony Merrill

Detective

George Magrill

Detective

Ralph Montgomery

Detective

Richard Irving

Doctor

Charles Wagenheim

Nervous man

William Mccormick

Older man

Victor Paul

Young punk

Michael Jordan

Gangster

Michael Barrett

Gangster

Billy Dix

Gangster

Guy Kingsford

Ballistics man

Forrest Taylor

Capt. of detectives

Ray Bennett

Sheriff Kiesling

Jack Shea

Fighter

Cameron Grant

Man with Lili

Jean Carter

Marlene

Jimmy Dundee

Capt. of waiters

Douglas Carter

Sanitation man

Lucille Barkley

Corrine

Mack Chandler

Man on table

Fred Murray

Man on table

Harris Brown

Doctor

John Phillips

Doctor

Wilson Wood

Gateman

Billy Snyder

Mobster at door

Eddie Foster

Mobster

Zon Murray

Mobster

Bette Arlen

Woman at café

Jeffrey Sayre

Manager of Fol-de-Rol

Cameron Grant

Out-of-towner

Erin Selwyn

Hat check girl

Sam Finn

Patron

Charles Regan

Patron

Jim Drum

Patron

Erno Verebes

Capt. of waiters

John Mckee

Recorder

Robert Strong

Police stenographer

Allen Ray

Wounded officer

Thomas E. Breen

Mary Jane Smith

Minerva Urecal

Margaret Bert

Sally Feeney

William Phipps

Videos

Movie Clip

Scene Of The Crime (1949) - Stop Tossing That Gun Around Opening with a straight-up murder, characters not identified (G. Pat Collins plays the victim whom, we’ll learn, is a plainclothes cop), we then meet cover-girl Gloria (Arlene Dahl) and her husband, cop Mike Conovan (Van Johnson), about to celebrate their anniversary, in the rare MGM-Noir, Scene Of The Crime, 1949.
Scene Of The Crime (1949) - If You Never Try To Stop L-A cop Conovan (Van Johnson) chasing a lead, explains to wife Gloria (Arlene Dahl) then, hardly noticing one performer (Jean Carter) and not revealing himself, earns some time with stripper Lili (Gloria DeHaven, in a role evoking the famous Burlesque entertainer Lili St. Cyr), in MGM’s Scene Of The Crime, 1949.
Scene Of The Crime (1949) - Only Fools Bet Horses Three L-A cops (Van Johnson as Mike Conovan, with John McIntire and Tom Drake) investigating a colleague’s murder have followed the car that just picked up a suspect they were watching, to learn that he’s been grabbed by syndicate crook “Umpire” (Tom Powers), looking to set up a larger operation, in Scene Of The Crime, 1949.
Scene Of The Crime (1949) - I'm Such A Stinkin' Crook First with a clever riff on their going-out evening routine, L-A cop Mike Conover (Van Johnson) and his fashion model wife Gloria (Arlene Dahl) are surprised by informant Sleeper (TCM friend and favorite Norman Lloyd), with dope on a series of robberies of bookmakers, in MGM’s Scene Of The Crime, 1949.
Scene Of The Crime (1949) - Never Pick Up A Pigeon Alone Driving around L-A beginning their investigation of a the murder of a fellow plainclothes cop, Van Johnson as Conovan, John McIntire as his mentor-partner Piper, and Tom Drake as young “C.C.,” talk shop and notice lurking “Sleeper” (Norman Lloyd), early in Scene Of The Crime, 1949, from MGM and director Roy Rowland.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Crime
Mystery
Film Noir
Release Date
Aug 26, 1949
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Jul 1949
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 34m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1

Articles

Scene of the Crime


MGM took a walk on the noir side with a series of ultra-realistic thrillers spearheaded by Dore Schary when he took over as head of production in 1948. Scene of the Crime (1949) was one of the best, good enough to win an Edgar nomination for Best Motion Picture from the Mystery Writers of America with its tale of a cop torn between leaving the force to keep his wife happy and bringing down the crooks who killed his partner. It also set its stars on new careers, helping them make the transition from the glitz of the '30s and '40s to the more realistic world of the '50s. But although the film seemed a major departure from the studio's glamorous past, it actually had some pretty solid roots at MGM, drawing on the realistic crime shorts in their award-winning "Crime Does Not Pay" series of the '30s and '40s and such low-budget early '40s films as Kid Glove Killer and Grand Central Murder (both 1942).

Van Johnson had hit stardom during World War II when his 4F status helped him stay in Hollywood and become the idol of millions of teenaged girls. At the time, his vehicles were fluffy comedies, with the occasional musical thrown in for good measure (he had started as a chorus boy on Broadway). But Schary saw something tougher under Johnson's bland exterior. He had tested the waters with a serious role in the realistic World War II drama Command Decision (1948), starring Clark Gable. Scene of the Crime would mark his first starring role as a tough guy. The character's penchant for wise cracks drew on the actor's comedy experience, while also revealing an unsuspected flair for cynicism. Johnson would continue in this vein with Schary's trend-setting World War II story Battleground (1949) and do well enough to be offered the role of Eliot Ness in the crime series The Untouchables (his salary demands would cost him the role, which went to Robert Stack instead).

Gloria DeHaven also was making a break from her typecasting as a vivacious ingénue. After learning her craft in a series of small, light-hearted roles that took full advantage of her beauty and singing talents, she had landed star billing in Summer Holiday (1948), a musical adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness starring Mickey Rooney. Then Schary decided she needed to show her dramatic side in more adult roles, so he cast her as the stripper and gangster's moll who tries to distract Johnson from his quest for vengeance. Of course, she couldn't strip on screen, so the script had her perform a reverse strip, putting it on as she sang Andre Previn's "I'm a Goody Good Girl," an ironic commentary on her screen image. DeHaven, too, would explore dramatics further, most notably as Glenn Ford's bohemian sister in The Doctor and the Girl later that year.

To capture the story's noir shadings, Schary handed the script to recent studio arrival Charles Schnee, whose first original screenwriting credit had come with I Walk Alone, a 1948 thriller that attempted to put the gangster genre in touch with the realities of post-war life. The same year as Scene of the Crime, he would write one of the greatest of all film noirs, They Live by Night, an early rendition of the Bonnie and Clyde story. He would go on to win an Oscar® for his noir-ish dissection of Hollywood life, The Bad and the Beautiful (1952).

Director Roy Rowland had managed to straddle the worlds of realism and glamour at MGM for years. He had started his directing career there with the all-star musical, Hollywood Party (1934), but that film's failure had sent him into the world of movie shorts, where he polished his craft on the realistic "Crime Does Not Pay" dramas as well as comical featurettes by Robert Benchley and Pete Smith.

Rowland returned to features to direct star vehicles for the likes of Frank Morgan and Margaret O'Brien, but somewhere in there managed a solid job on the crime thriller Killer McCoy (1947), an attempt to toughen Mickey Rooney's image. Even after the success of Scene of the Crime, he managed to combine crime thrillers and lighter fare. One of his toughest films ever was MGM's Rogue Cop (1954), a brutal crime story starring Robert Taylor. But he also scored his most notable credit with the children's fantasy The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), a cult favorite written by Dr. Seuss.

Scene of the Crime turned a profit, thanks to its relatively low budget and the continuing support of Johnson's fans. That was enough to keep Schary in office as he tried to remake MGM to meet changing audience tastes. With television eroding the studios' market, however, little noirs like this would eventually become the province of the small screen.

Producer: Harry Rapf
Director: Roy Rowland
Screenplay: Charles Schnee, based on the short story "Smashing the Bookie Gang Marauders" by John Bartlow Martin
Cinematography: Paul C. Vogel
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Leonid Vasian
Music: Andre Previn
Cast: Van Johnson (Mike Conovan), Gloria DeHaven (Lili), Tom Drake (C.C. Gordon), Arlene Dahl (Gloria Conovan), Leon Ames (Capt. A.C. Forster), John McIntire (Fred Piper), Norman Lloyd (Sleeper), Donald Woods (Herkimer), Jerome Cowan (Arthur Webson), Robert Gist (Pontiac), Minerva Urecal (Woman).
BW-95m. Closed captioning.

by Frank Miller
Scene Of The Crime

Scene of the Crime

MGM took a walk on the noir side with a series of ultra-realistic thrillers spearheaded by Dore Schary when he took over as head of production in 1948. Scene of the Crime (1949) was one of the best, good enough to win an Edgar nomination for Best Motion Picture from the Mystery Writers of America with its tale of a cop torn between leaving the force to keep his wife happy and bringing down the crooks who killed his partner. It also set its stars on new careers, helping them make the transition from the glitz of the '30s and '40s to the more realistic world of the '50s. But although the film seemed a major departure from the studio's glamorous past, it actually had some pretty solid roots at MGM, drawing on the realistic crime shorts in their award-winning "Crime Does Not Pay" series of the '30s and '40s and such low-budget early '40s films as Kid Glove Killer and Grand Central Murder (both 1942). Van Johnson had hit stardom during World War II when his 4F status helped him stay in Hollywood and become the idol of millions of teenaged girls. At the time, his vehicles were fluffy comedies, with the occasional musical thrown in for good measure (he had started as a chorus boy on Broadway). But Schary saw something tougher under Johnson's bland exterior. He had tested the waters with a serious role in the realistic World War II drama Command Decision (1948), starring Clark Gable. Scene of the Crime would mark his first starring role as a tough guy. The character's penchant for wise cracks drew on the actor's comedy experience, while also revealing an unsuspected flair for cynicism. Johnson would continue in this vein with Schary's trend-setting World War II story Battleground (1949) and do well enough to be offered the role of Eliot Ness in the crime series The Untouchables (his salary demands would cost him the role, which went to Robert Stack instead). Gloria DeHaven also was making a break from her typecasting as a vivacious ingénue. After learning her craft in a series of small, light-hearted roles that took full advantage of her beauty and singing talents, she had landed star billing in Summer Holiday (1948), a musical adaptation of Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness starring Mickey Rooney. Then Schary decided she needed to show her dramatic side in more adult roles, so he cast her as the stripper and gangster's moll who tries to distract Johnson from his quest for vengeance. Of course, she couldn't strip on screen, so the script had her perform a reverse strip, putting it on as she sang Andre Previn's "I'm a Goody Good Girl," an ironic commentary on her screen image. DeHaven, too, would explore dramatics further, most notably as Glenn Ford's bohemian sister in The Doctor and the Girl later that year. To capture the story's noir shadings, Schary handed the script to recent studio arrival Charles Schnee, whose first original screenwriting credit had come with I Walk Alone, a 1948 thriller that attempted to put the gangster genre in touch with the realities of post-war life. The same year as Scene of the Crime, he would write one of the greatest of all film noirs, They Live by Night, an early rendition of the Bonnie and Clyde story. He would go on to win an Oscar® for his noir-ish dissection of Hollywood life, The Bad and the Beautiful (1952). Director Roy Rowland had managed to straddle the worlds of realism and glamour at MGM for years. He had started his directing career there with the all-star musical, Hollywood Party (1934), but that film's failure had sent him into the world of movie shorts, where he polished his craft on the realistic "Crime Does Not Pay" dramas as well as comical featurettes by Robert Benchley and Pete Smith. Rowland returned to features to direct star vehicles for the likes of Frank Morgan and Margaret O'Brien, but somewhere in there managed a solid job on the crime thriller Killer McCoy (1947), an attempt to toughen Mickey Rooney's image. Even after the success of Scene of the Crime, he managed to combine crime thrillers and lighter fare. One of his toughest films ever was MGM's Rogue Cop (1954), a brutal crime story starring Robert Taylor. But he also scored his most notable credit with the children's fantasy The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953), a cult favorite written by Dr. Seuss. Scene of the Crime turned a profit, thanks to its relatively low budget and the continuing support of Johnson's fans. That was enough to keep Schary in office as he tried to remake MGM to meet changing audience tastes. With television eroding the studios' market, however, little noirs like this would eventually become the province of the small screen. Producer: Harry Rapf Director: Roy Rowland Screenplay: Charles Schnee, based on the short story "Smashing the Bookie Gang Marauders" by John Bartlow Martin Cinematography: Paul C. Vogel Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Leonid Vasian Music: Andre Previn Cast: Van Johnson (Mike Conovan), Gloria DeHaven (Lili), Tom Drake (C.C. Gordon), Arlene Dahl (Gloria Conovan), Leon Ames (Capt. A.C. Forster), John McIntire (Fred Piper), Norman Lloyd (Sleeper), Donald Woods (Herkimer), Jerome Cowan (Arthur Webson), Robert Gist (Pontiac), Minerva Urecal (Woman). BW-95m. Closed captioning. by Frank Miller

Quotes

Naturally, I know you know I know somethin'.
- Sleeper
I know you know I know you know somethin'.
- Mike Conovan
I'm no Humphrey Bogart. He gets slugged and he's ready for action; I get slugged and I'm ready for pickling.
- P.J. Pontiac
Lili, a sizzler at the Fol-de-Rol. A figure like champagne and a heart like the cork.
- P.J. Pontiac

Trivia

Notes

This film marked producer Harry Rapf's final film. Rapf, whose film career spanned four decades, and who joined M-G-M in 1924, died of heart failure on February 7, 1949, one week after shooting began on Scene of the Crime. A late January 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that Donna Reed was originally set for the part played by Arlene Dahl. According to a March 1949 Hollywood Reporter news item, the film was completed on schedule and "well within" its $750,000 dollar budget.