Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

Between Midnight and Dawn (1950) is a police procedural and revenge urban prowl car noir mob boss murder trial and violence against women film noir, starring Edmond O'Brien, Mark Stevens and Gale Storm.

The violence against women aspect of Between Midnight and Dawn (1950) is worth mentioning in this instance as it is called out and questioned. When Edmond O'Brien's no-nonsense beat cop bitch slaps up Gale Robbins' character he is challenged.

His response to this is not only that he kinda regrets losing it and beating up this woman, but that in his view, 'tramps like her ain't women', which becomes his justification for this cruelty.

Prowl car patrol cop Mark Stevens in film noir Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

Prowl car patrol cop Edmond O'Brien in film noir Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

Great supporting work comes from all sides in Between Midnight and Dawn (1950), notably from the excellent Donald Buka who should have played many more roles than he did, being a perfect cold villain type and Gale Robbins as his nightclub singer girlfriend.

It's life on the streets and as such solid film noir territory, and amid the prowl car and rain-washed streets scenarios are domestic moments, the perfect film noir foil to the urban violence outwith. 

It's also life back at the station with the cops seen in their locker rooms and mess centres, all comfortably managed by the radio room, the new crime fighting locus of the era. 

The initial sequences tantalize with the promise of a gritty buddy tale, showcasing the formidable noir icon Edmond O'Brien alongside the amiable Mark Stevens as a pair of seasoned prowl car cops. 

Director Gordon Douglas infuses the narrative with pulse-pounding action, elevating the film's appeal. However, the transition to later romantic interludes veers uncomfortably into forced levity, diluting the overall impact. Gale Storm's portrayal as a police dispatcher feels out of place, her demeanour too saccharine for the role. Perhaps her association with "My Little Margie" exacerbates this mismatch.

Nevertheless, the film boasts several commendable elements, including comedic moments, witty dialogue, and the enchanting presence of Gale Robbins. Its genre-defying nature, oscillating between crime drama and light-hearted fare, may confound categorization. But that is noir for ya bub. Sometimes it's the city streets and sometimes it's the tragic back rooms, bars and other haunts.

While lacking the moral complexity of true noir, the opportunity to witness Eddie O'Brien's exceptional talent and the exhilarating action sequences renders the viewing experience worthwhile.

Tito Vuolo in Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

Notably, the screenplay's resemblance to 1952's The Turning Point raises eyebrows, with O'Brien's character mirroring the fortuitous trajectory of William Holden's counterpart. The recurrence prompts speculation about Hollywood's penchant for recycling plots, akin to the persistence of mosquitoes in their bite.

Kids of film noir in Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

The dimly lit streets of the city, shrouded in a cloak of mystery and danger, serve as the backdrop for this gripping crime saga featuring a pair of hardened buddy cops, impeccably portrayed by Mark Stevens and Edmond O'Brien. O'Brien's performance, in particular, is nothing short of mesmerizing, a testament to his prowess as a class act film noir actor, tough but human all too human.

His portrayal of determination and unwavering resolve leaves an indelible mark, setting the stage for his unforgettable turn in The Bigamist (1953). Despite not fitting the mold of a traditional leading man, O'Brien's raw talent shines through, earning him accolades that transcend the confines of conventional recognition.

Gale Storm in prowl car noir Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

The narrative unfolds with the precision of a well-oiled machine, courtesy of Eugene Ling's masterful screenplay. Packed with razor-sharp one-liners and clever quips, the dialogue crackles with wit and charm, injecting moments of levity into the tense and shadowy world of crime and corruption. Salty remarks, dripping with sarcasm and cynicism, punctuate the narrative, serving as a stark reminder of a bygone era when wit was as deadly as a bullet in the dark.

Romantic comedy style jinx at the station in Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

At the heart of the story lies a formidable antagonist, brought to life with chilling intensity by Donald Buka. His portrayal of a deranged criminal, with piercing eyes and an unyielding resolve, sends shivers down the spine, casting a menacing shadow over the city's underbelly. 

Gale Storm's portrayal of the wholesome love interest adds depth and complexity to the narrative, her internal struggle echoing the psychological scars of her past.

Donald Buka in Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

Being a cop in America in 1950 was characterized by a combination of challenges and rewards. The job demanded courage, integrity, and a strong sense of duty. 

Officers faced the constant threat of violence, particularly in urban areas with high crime rates. Policing methods were often more traditional compared to modern practices, with officers relying heavily on foot patrols, community relationships, and intuition to maintain law and order. 

Streets of film noir in Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

However, corruption and misconduct were also prevalent within some police departments, posing additional challenges for officers striving to uphold justice. Despite the hardships, many cops found fulfilment in serving their communities and upholding the law, viewing their role as essential to maintaining public safety and order.

There are some rather swell children in noir scenes to enjoy most especially those featuring Petey Conklin, in the back of the squad car.

Officer Rocky Barnes: [looking at Petey and Thurlow in the back seat] You say he's your brother?

Peter J. 'Petey' Conklin: Yeah.

Officer Rocky Barnes: He doesn't look like you.

Peter J. 'Petey' Conklin: I ain't complainin'.

At the close of the movie, Donald Buka's savage and on the run vengeful villain is cornered in an apartment block and decides to taunt the cops and other concerned parties by dangling a child out of the window, causing even more cop wrath to rein down on him. 

The authenticity of the buddy cop dynamic is palpable, drawing from real-life experiences and camaraderie forged in the crucible of urban law enforcement. As the protagonists navigate the treacherous streets, responding to calls and facing down violent criminals, their bond is tested, but never broken. Stevens and O'Brien deliver performances that resonate with authenticity, embodying the grit and determination of those who walk the thin blue line.

Gale Storm in prowl car noir Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

This seminal film, with its groundbreaking portrayal of police work and urban crime, leaves an indelible mark on the cinematic landscape. Its influence reverberates through generations of television dramas, serving as a blueprint for countless imitators. As audiences are swept up in the thrilling action and heart-pounding suspense, they are reminded of the sacrifices and struggles of those who serve and protect. In the darkness of the night, amidst the chaos and danger, the bond between two cops remains unbreakable, a beacon of hope in a world consumed by shadows.

Cops have long been a popular subject in cinema due to a variety of reasons deeply rooted in human fascination and societal dynamics. Here are several key factors contributing to the enduring popularity of cop-themed films:

Streets of film noir in Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

Policing inherently involves high stakes, conflict, and drama. Officers are tasked with upholding the law, confronting criminals, and navigating complex moral dilemmas, all of which provide fertile ground for compelling storytelling. The tension between justice and lawlessness, order and chaos, creates a dynamic narrative that captivates audiences.

Cop films often explore universal themes such as justice, morality, loyalty, and redemption. These themes resonate with audiences across cultures and generations, tapping into fundamental aspects of the human experience. Whether it's a tale of a lone detective seeking vengeance or a team of officers fighting corruption, cop films often grapple with timeless questions about right and wrong.

Police station in film noir in Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

In the smoky underbelly of the city, where shadows dance with secrets and danger lurks in every alleyway, there's a B-movie playing out, a gritty tale that straddles the line between classic noir and serial melodrama. It's the kind of flick that sets the stage for what would later become known as the police procedural, a raw and unfiltered look at the dark side of law enforcement.

Stevens and O'Brian are the two faces of justice on the mean streets of LAPD, a pair of patrol cops with hearts of gold and a knack for getting into trouble. But it's Gale Storm, the wholesome new dispatch girl, who steals their attention in the dead of night, her presence casting a ray of light in the darkness of their world.

Calling all prowl cars Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

Yet beneath the surface of budding romance lies a shadowy underworld teeming with gangsters, molls, and heartbreak. As the story unfolds, the lines between love and danger blur, and it's only a matter of time before tragedy strikes, leaving lives shattered and innocence lost.

But amidst the chaos and turmoil, the leads shine bright, their charisma and chemistry lighting up the screen with every scene. And with sharp writing that cuts through the haze of post-war uncertainty, this film emerges as another hidden gem of its time, a testament to the enduring allure of noir cinema

Police officers are frequently portrayed as heroes, bravely confronting danger and standing up for what's right. This heroic archetype appeals to audiences' desire for justice and order in a sometimes chaotic world. Cop protagonists often embody traits such as courage, integrity, and selflessness, making them compelling figures to root for on screen.

Cop films serve as a lens through which to explore broader social issues and concerns. From crime and corruption to racial tensions and institutional challenges, these films shed light on the complexities of society and the criminal justice system. By addressing real-world issues in a fictional context, cop films provoke thought and discussion about pressing social issues.

Many cop films are infused with action-packed sequences, car chases, and intense shootouts, offering audiences an adrenaline-fueled ride. The combination of suspense, danger, and adrenaline-pumping action keeps viewers on the edge of their seats and provides an exhilarating cinematic experience.

 Cop films often feature compelling character dynamics, whether it's the partnership between two detectives, the conflict between law enforcement and criminals, or the internal struggles of individual officers. Rich character development adds depth and complexity to the narrative, drawing viewers into the lives and relationships of the characters.

Interesting WW2 memorabilia includes Japanese flag, German Luger and various ordinance and ceremonial swords in Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

In a world where justice is not always guaranteed, cop films offer a sense of catharsis and closure. Audiences are drawn to stories where order is restored, criminals are brought to justice, and the righteous prevail. This reaffirmation of justice provides a satisfying and reassuring narrative arc for viewers.

Noir has it made all right, and although there is a tendency to brand every cop film of the 40s and 50s as noir, there are deeper sensibilities at play when the solid noir rolls. 

Donald Buka in Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

The enduring popularity of cop-themed cinema can be attributed to its ability to shock, provoke thought, and tap into fundamental aspects of the human condition. The social condition too, as the fascist forces of the state battle the anarchic forces of crime, mean that the cop is the black shirted foot soldier of goodness in the city, although it is a bad goodness and a troubled goodness, and that is the fertile ground of noir.

In the cop-crawling shadows of the city's darkest hours, Between Midnight and Dawn emerges as a 1950 American film noir crime saga, helmed by the masterful Gordon Douglas. With Mark Stevens, Edmond O'Brien, and Gale Storm leading the charge, this gritty tale plunges into the heart of urban turmoil, marking a significant departure from the typical Hollywood crime dramas of its time.

Notable for its pioneering portrayal of beat cops, rather than the usual focus on detectives and high-ranking officers, "Between Midnight and Dawn" delves deep into the gritty reality of law enforcement on the streets. As the clock ticks towards midnight, Stevens and O'Brien navigate the treacherous landscape of crime and corruption, their resolve tested at every turn.

But it's not just the pulse-pounding action that sets this film apart. With Gale Storm adding a touch of humanity amidst the chaos, "Between Midnight and Dawn" explores the complex dynamics of duty, loyalty, and sacrifice in the face of overwhelming odds.

Directed with finesse by Gordon Douglas and brought to life by a stellar cast, this film stands as a testament to the enduring power of noir cinema, offering a glimpse into the dark underbelly of society where justice hangs in the balance "Between Midnight and Dawn."

This climate of fear and uncertainty is reflected in many films noir. Characters are often haunted by their pasts, struggling to make sense of a world that seems to have lost its moral compass. Crime and violence are pervasive, and justice is often elusive. 

Edmond O'Brien in Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

Many films also explore themes of masculinity and femininity, with male characters struggling to assert their authority in a society that was rapidly changing, and female characters using their sexuality as a means of survival in a patriarchal world.

Being a cop in a noir world was as complicated as the untroubled veneer of 1950s hope for America got, and there is a sure-fire moral strain throughout the style that seeks to stamp crime out of the public mind and join with that utopian vision of the New World.

But if film noir tells us anything, it is that we are to remain human, and remain corrupted by desire and by loss, by feelings of revenge and lust, by feelings of loss and isolation, and the unending difficulties of being a human in the City Of Night.

Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

Directed by Gordon Douglas

Genres - Drama, Crime  |   Release Date - Sep 28, 1950 (USA - Unknown), Oct 1, 1950 (USA)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |  Wikipedia Article Between Midnight and Dawn (1950)

No comments:

Post a Comment