711 Ocean Drive
Cast & Crew
Joseph M. Newman
Lt. Pete Wright and his partner, members of the Los Angeles police gangster squad, set out for Las Vegas to arrest Mal Granger on a murder charge. While they drive, Wright reflects on Granger's downfall: Granger works for the telephone company and supplements his meager salary by betting on the horse races. Chippie Evans, his bookie, suggests that Granger could make even more money by using his electronic expertise to help Vince Walters, the owner of a racing wire that furnishes bookmakers with the results of every race direct from the track. Walters, who wants to expand his network throughout the state of California, offers Granger a good salary to set up and maintain an expanded system. Granger is also drawn to the arrangement by the presence of Trudy Maxwell, Walters' attractive assistant. Meanwhile, Wright is assigned to the newly established gangster squad and investigates Walters' organization, which is suspected of being a front for illegal gambling. One day, while signaling the changing odds of a race, which are then transmitted to Walters, Trudy is arrested and then banned from the track. Granger keeps refining the signaling process and eventually, is able to pressure Walters into making him a partner. When Walters is killed by a member of his gang, Granger takes over his position. After his success attracts the attention of an eastern syndicate, Larry Mason and his attractive wife Gail are sent to Los Angeles to make an offer to Granger. At first, Granger refuses to join the syndicate, but Carl Stephans, the head of the syndicate, successfully uses the flirtatious Gail as bait, and Granger later announces the partnership to his bookies. The syndicate demands protection money from the bookies, and those who refuse are terrorized. Disgusted, Trudy reveals that the syndicate is cheating Granger. Granger, who has fallen in love with Gail, then plots to run away with her. After Mason beats up Gail, Granger hires a man named Gizzi to kill him. Gizzi blackmails Granger, who then runs him off a pier. Then using a device that he invented, Granger calls Wright, pretending to be in Palm Springs, in order to establish an alibi. When Wright detects a street car whistle on the tape, however, the call is revealed to be a fake. With the help of Gail and Chippie, the unsuspecting Granger sets out to swindle the syndicate's Las Vegas bookies, but Chippie is recognized by one of them, who tips off Stephans that Granger is in Las Vegas. In the meantime, Wright identifies Granger's car as the one that killed Gizzi. When they learn that Chippie has been killed by the syndicate, Gail and Granger try to escape, but the police and the syndicate catch up with them at Boulder Dam. Granger is killed in the ensuing shootout, and Gail is arrested.
Joseph M. Newman
Howard St. John
Charles La Torre
Lt. William Burns Lapd
Frank F. Planer
Frank N. Seltzer
Charles L. Smith
711 Ocean Drive
Despite a heavy-handed framing device, 711 Ocean Drive (1950) remains a better-than-average example of the Fifties crime film due to an effectively staged climax on Hoover Dam and an especially strong lead performance by Edmond O'Brien. Usually considered a character actor, O'Brien (1915-1985) stood out in supporting roles for such films as 1954's The Barefoot Contessa (for which he won an Oscar®), Seven Days in May (1964) and, most memorably of all, The Wild Bunch (1969). While perhaps not as well known as his lead role in the cult noir favorite D.O.A. (1949), O'Brien's performance here as Mal Granger is, if anything, even stronger. The likeably gruff working-class persona he establishes at the beginning of the film makes his transformation into a mobster--and murderer--credible and involving.
Also noteworthy is the stark photography by Frank (Franz) Planer (1894-1963). Born in Karlsbad, Czechoslovakia, Planer began his career in Germany with films such as the science fiction tale Alraune (1927) and the early Max Ophuls feature Liebelei (1933). Planer left Germany in the early 1930s and worked for a few years in the UK before moving on to Hollywood. Despite working on George Cukor's star-powered Holiday (1938), he made mostly smaller pictures until 1948, when he collaborated with Ophuls on Letter from an Unknown Woman, notable for its atmospheric recreation of turn-of-the-century Vienna. Other notable films shot by Planer include Criss Cross (1949), Roman Holiday (1953), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961) and The Children's Hour (1961).
The real-life circumstances behind the production of 711 Ocean Drive also deserve mention. A title card at the beginning of the film states: "Because of the disclosures made in this film, powerful underworld interests tried to halt production with threats of violence and reprisal. It was only through the armed protection provided by members of the Police Department in the locales where the picture was filmed that this story was able to reach the screen." While this might seem like a low-rent publicity ploy, in fact the film's producer, Frank Seltzer, testified before the Senate Crime Investigating Committee that the film's subject matter--which included a detailed exposure of racing wire operations and their use of "past posting" to cheat bookies--caused a number of problems during shooting.
According to Seltzer, he was also refused permission to shoot in Las Vegas, presumably because of its negative depiction of gambling, and similarly pressured to halt shooting at Hoover (Boulder) Dam, though it was on government property. He claimed in a June 1950 interview for the Los Angeles Times that his cameramen were told to "go back to Los Angeles where you belong." He added: "I never expected physical violence because they don't work that way. [...] I was concerned for the safety of the film."
Producer: Frank N. Seltzer
Director: Joseph M. Newman
Photography: Frank (Franz) Planer
Script: Richard English, Francis Swann
Art Direction: Perry Ferguson
Film Editor: Bert Jordan
Music: Sol Kaplan
Cast: Edmond O'Brien (Mal Granger), Joanne Dru (Gail Mason), Otto Kruger (Carl Stephans), Barry Kelley (Vince Walters), Dorothy Patrick (Trudy Maxwell), Donald Porter (Larry Mason), Howard St. John (Lt. Pete Wright), Robert Osterloh (Gizzi), Sammy White (Chippie Evans), Bert Freed (Marshak). BW-102m.
by James Steffen
711 Ocean Drive
Time wounds all heels.- Mal Granger
The film's working title was Blood Money. The following written statement appears before the onscreen credits: "Because of the disclosures made in this film, powerful underworld interests tried to halt production with threats of violence and reprisal. It was only through the armed protection provided by members of the Police Department in the locales where the picture was filmed that this story was able to reach the screen. To these men, and to the U.S. Rangers at Boulder Dam, we are deeply grateful." The film ends with the following written statement: "The cooperation of the United States Department of the Interior, Bureau of Reclamation is gratefully acknowledged."
Although the New York Times review mentions that Wisconsin's Senator Alexander Wiley, a member of the Senate Committee on Crime, appears onscreen to endorse the film, he was not seen in the viewed print. According to a June 15, 1950 Los Angeles Times article, producer Frank Seltzer told a special Senate Crime Investigating Committee, which was conducting hearings on organized crime, that his film crew was pressured by Las Vegas gamblers to halt filming at Hoover Dam (which was formerly called Boulder Dam), Lake Mead, Palm Springs, Las Vegas and at a "prominent Los Angeles restaurant," because they were displeased by the film's depiction of the "complicated system of 'past posting.'" Seltzer claimed that he spent $77,000 constructing stage reproductions of location sites at which he was unable to shoot and that five members of the Los Angeles police gangster squad were assigned to his company. On June 18, 1950, Los Angeles Times reported that the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce denied Seltzer's charges and responded that "The chamber urged him to revise [the script] to eliminate the falsehoods and fantasy on which it was based." According to a June 12, 1950 Hollywood Reporter news item, 711 Ocean Drive was chosen by managers of the seven television stations in Southern California to test the effectiveness of television advertising, as part of a joint experiment with Columbia Pictures.