Scene of the Crime ★★★

Did, as some people think, "Scene of the Crime" invent the cop drama clichés that have been a mainstay of television and film for so long? Or were they already established and just copied by this film?

Not being an expert in the genre, I don't know. I do know that despite attempts by some people to elevate this movie to film noir status, it's not that great.

Dore Schary put this into production when he took over MGM. I guess he wanted MGM to be more like Warner Brothers. It stars Van Johnson, Arlene Dahl, John McIntyre, Leon Ames, and Gloria DeHaven.

When a cop is killed with a roll of dough found on him, his fellow officers set out to investigate the crime and clear the man's name.

"Scene of the Crime" is similar in its way to "Dragnet" - it shows the daily grind of detectives as they put together a case. There are a couple of very good scenes, including one in which Mike (Van Johnson) arrests a suspect, and shooting starts when they get outside of the apartment building. Still handcuffed to Mike, the perp jumps into a building stairwell. There's also a good car chase.

For some reason, Van Johnson did these baby-faced tough guys well - perhaps it was his New York accent, but he pulls off the role of the dedicated Mike.

Johnson was set to be Elliot Ness in the TV "Untouchables" when his wife Evie called Desi Arnaz the night before and held him up for more money. Arnaz called Robert Stack and told him to report to the set the next day.

A friend of mine who has lived in LA for over 50 years and socialized with many stars said that Arlene Dahl was the most beautiful woman of everyone he had met. Seeing her in this, you can believe it. She is a spectacular beauty if her acting in some spots isn't the best. Gloria De Haven, usually a vibrant ingenue, plays against type as a tramp, which makes it interesting.

"Scene of the Crime" is gritty-looking enough but suffers from being slow in spots and loaded with clichés. There isn't anything to make it truly special. That could be because by now, we've seen it all before. Perhaps in 1949, it was fresh. But I have my doubts that even back then, it broke any new ground.