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Entertaining early 1950s film noir 4 Stars

An excellent film noir of the 1950s complete with televised crime commission hearings, crooked cops, and cynical reporters, William Dieterle’s The Turning Point’s eighty-five minutes are well worth seeing.

The Turning Point (1952)
Released: 01 Dec 1952
Rated: Passed
Runtime: 85 min
Director: William Dieterle
Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir
Cast: William Holden, Edmond O'Brien, Alexis Smith
Writer(s): Warren Duff, Horace McCoy
Plot: Jerry McKibbon is a tough, no nonsense reporter, mentoring special prosecutor John Conroy in routing out corrupt officials in the city, which may even include Conroy's own police detective father as a suspect.
IMDB rating: 6.9
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: Paramount
Distributed By: Kino Lorber
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 25 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 09/20/2022
MSRP: $24.95

The Production: 4/5

William Dieterle’s 1952 film noir The Turning Point features a then-new phenomenon of grilling organized crime figures on television to the rapt fascination of millions of viewers giving the movie a distinction at the time that separated it from other crime dramas of its era. With three top notch stars and a sterling cadre of supporting players, The Turning Point remains a high point in 1950s film noir.

Newly appointed special prosecutor John Conroy (Edmond O’Brien) has been tasked to delve into the inclusive criminal syndicate headed by the nefarious gangster Neil Eichelberger (Ed Begley), a job he takes very personally. Ace reporter Jerry McKibbon (William Holden) wishes his pal well but cynically believes his buddy is on a fool’s errand. He’s further dismayed when he learns that John’s policeman/father (Tom Tully) whom John idolizes so much that he hires him as chief investigator for his committee is on the syndicate payroll, John not even suspicious when leaks from his committee become obvious. John’s girl friend Amanda Waycross (Alexis Smith) resents Jerry’s looking down on their committee’s work, but as the two work closer together to try to help John achieve his goals and save his father’s good name, they begin to fall in love, not helpful when Eichelberger realizes the committee is getting closer to exposing his criminal enterprises and he must take drastic measures to save his organization at any cost.

Warren Duff’s screenplay is based on Horace McCoy’s novel Storm in the City (and allegedly there were quite a few other hands who contributed to the script). It’s a taut tale running less than ninety minutes filled with (at the time) unusual publicly broadcasted hearings on organized crime and showing several cases of witness intimidation which must have opened some eyes back in the day. Director William Dieterle guides the film along quite smoothly and stages three rather memorable action set pieces: the well-orchestrated murder of the crooked cop to look like a burglary-gone-bad, an elaborate arson job on the syndicate’s financial business to hide their money laundering operations, and the climactic assassination attempt on a key witness against the mob to be carried out during a frenzied prizefight. Though the city is unnamed throughout the film (it’s mentioned it’s in the Midwest), all of the location photography features famous Los Angeles landmarks, all a pleasure to view in their familiarity to many noirs of the period.

William Holden was the go-to choice for cynical characters of the period, a couple of years after his Oscar-nominated world-weary screenwriter in Sunset Boulevard and a year before he’d win the prize for his distrustful prisoner of war in Stalag 17. He’s wonderful with his hoping for the best but expecting the worst reporter even if the tentative romance with third-billed Alexis Smith (who gives an earnest performance) is rather anticlimactic. Edmond O’Brien wears his idealism well as John Conroy until one experience after another in his committee work helps to remove sometimes cruelly his rose-colored glasses. Ed Begley steals all of his scenes commanding the screen as crime boss Neil Eichelberger while his lieutenants are excellently played by hot-headed Dan Dayton and the more coolly tempered Ted de Corsia. Tom Tully’s cop-on-the-take is keenly drawn, and the film offers a superb rogues’ gallery of mobsters, some crass and some crafty, including Don Porter and Russell Johnson. The movie also features the screen debut of Carolyn Jones who in her one memorable moment plays a mink-encrusted smart-mouthed chippy with nothing to hide who testifies before the committee.

Video: 4.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film’s 1.37:1 theatrical aspect ratio is faithfully presented in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. The transfer offers a very clean and sharp rendering of the image (from a 4K scan of its film elements) and features a strong grayscale with rich, inky blacks and crisp whites. There is no proliferation of scratches, dust, or dirt, but there are some occasional moiré patterns in patterned jackets and tight line structures. The film has been divided into 8 chapters.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix offers very good fidelity of the period. Dialogue has been well-recorded and has been mixed professionally with Irving Talbot’s spare background score (main title by Miklos Rozsa) and the various sound effects. There are no problems at all with age-related hiss, crackle, flutter, or pops.

Special Features: 2/5

Audio Commentary: noted film noir historian Alan K. Rode delivers another indelible track on the movie offering lots of data on the movie’s personnel and personal observations both general and specific as they arise in the movie. Fans of the film who haven’t heard it will definitely want to experience this track.

Theatrical Trailer (2:01, SD)

Kino Trailers: The Horse Soldiers, The Seventh Dawn, Shield for Murder, The Web, I’ll Be Seeing You, Portrait of Jennie, The Accused.

Overall: 4/5

An excellent film noir of the 1950s complete with televised crime commission hearings, crooked cops, and cynical reporters, William Dieterle’s The Turning Point’s eighty-five minutes are well worth seeing. Kino Lorber’s new high definition release is a must-have purchase for fans of the stars, the director, or the genre. Recommended!

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Matt Hough

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Traveling Matt

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I recently pulled the trigger on Imprint's Volume 3 as Kino hasn't indicated The Desperate Hours is coming from them and the Imprint has more extras on both this title and The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. I'm looking forward to watching this one as I like Edmond O'Brien.
 

Robert Crawford

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Thank you for the fine review. I think it's one of Kino's better video presentation and concur with the 4.5 grade. I liked this movie so much, I bought it twice on Blu-ray.:blush: I bought the Imprint Volume 3, when DD had a 15% coupon I could apply to it. Also, I bought the Kino Blu-ray because I want them to continue to release such movies.