Thursday, 10 July 2014


“This is Detroit, fabulous city of untold wealth, of might and muscle, of culture and the sweat of human endeavor and success’. This is Detroit, symbolic of America…push(ing) its towering smokestacks of industry against the sky.” 

“This bulletin has reached this desk from Detroit, Michigan, a city conceded to be the Arsenal of America. Now gangsters and organized crime are making a strong bid to gain control of the labor unions so that they can rule the destiny of some 17 million unionized workers. But for the courage of honest union officials, the police and a political regime of integrity, these crime elements would already be in control in Detroit. The film you are about to see, ‘Inside Detroit’ shows what has been done and what can be done by men of faith and fortitude to combat this menace.” 

So opens ‘Inside Detroit’, starring Dennis O’Keefe as Blair Vickers, an honest union official and Pat O’Brien as Gus Linden, a corrupt union boss and gangster. Linden was put away for five years on the testimony of Vickers but now he’s out and looking for revenge. He wants both to regain control of the union and to see Vickers dead. 

Vickers knows this but isn’t ready for Linden’s opening move against him, a bomb placed inside a pinball machine at union headquarters. Vickers survives but not his brother Tom. Vickers manages to rally but Linden, a particularly nasty piece of work, has more in store. 

Meantime, both Linden’s family and his mistress, Joni Calvin (Tina Carver) get dragged into the war which complicates things for Linden but also Vickers. He'd once been good friends with Linden and sweet on his daughter, Barbara (Margaret Field) who has never been able to accept that her father’s a villain. Vickers’s personal involvement endangers him further as Linden launches his take-no-prisoners takeover of the local. 

Though ‘Inside Detroit’ is weighed down by a) its contrived separated-at-birth plotline and b) its solemnly appointed task of ensuring that justice is seen to be done, a couple of things do provide this late period ‘semi-documentary’ noir a nice little lift. 

One is the spirited and committed performances of both its stars O’Keefe and O’Brien; also that of Tina Carver as O’Brien’s mistress. A minor player in a host of film noirs including ‘A Bullet For Joey’ (1955), ‘The Harder They Fall’ (1956), ‘A Cry in the Night’ (1957), ‘Chain of Evidence’ (1957), Carver got cast in roles familiar to Claire Trevor – a beaten-down sister-under-the-mink but one who still has hopes that her next mile down the road of broken dreams won’t be her last. 

Second is director Fred F. Sears whose credits include ‘The Miami Story (1954), ‘Cell 2455 Death Row’ (1955), ‘Teenage Crime Wave’ (1955), Miami Expose’ (1956). Sears, a journeyman helmsman, was handed a lot of lemons by studios in his time. But as with 'Inside Detroit', he nearly always found a way to squeeze some pretty juicy lemonade from them. Drink up.

Postscript: “We wish to thank the United Auto Workers of America for their cooperation without which this picture could not have been made.”

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