Between Midnight and Dawn

Between Midnight and Dawn ★★★

207th film of 2021: Between Midnight and Dawn (Douglas, 1950) released by Columbia in October the film offers a mix of noir style with the elements of the police procedural film that will come to be a major subgenre of noir into the 1950s with films like The Prowler (Losey, 1951), and Shield for Murder (Koch, 1954). The film like earlier police dramas uses realism to emphasize the technologies of policing and in depicting these new modes of policing celebrates these advances as well as the efforts of the lowly patrolmen who handle the incidents and cases that are too routine for detectives. Here the focus is on two buddies who served in the Marines in WWII and now are partners working for an unnamed police force in an unknown modern American city as prowl cops. Edmund O'Brien is really great as Officer Dan Purvis an older and more cynical cop who is affectionately called Pappy by his younger and more optimistic partner Officer Rocky Barnes (Mark Stevens) with whom he works and lives. Stevens gives a solid performance and demonstrates a comic sensibility, wholesomeness, and fun that is entertaining. The film follows them on their calls depicting the danger and boredom of their jobs which works well to develop their characters at the same time that it adds a sense of realism to the film. Gale Storm is very good as Kate Mallory a stenographer in the police department who Purvis and Barnes romance but Kate has a strict no cops policy because her father who was a cop was shot and killed in the line of duty. Still, she falls in love with Barnes who is brutally killed by a young racketeer Ritchie Garris (Donald Buka) while on patrol after Garris breaks out of prison. Barnes' death is shocking for Kate and even more so for Purvis who vows to catch Garris once more as he blames himself for Barnes' death. The final shootout between Purvis and Garris is a great action scene that is quite viscerally violent for a 1950s film including a shot of Garris' bloody hand print on the wall after Purvis shoots and kills him.