3 Days of “Forgotten Noir”: Scotland Yard Inspector (1952)

Danny McMara is run over by a woman in a parking lot on a dark, foggy London night while his sister Heather awaits his arrival at a nearby bar.

While waiting in the bar, Heather (Bernadette O’Farrell) meets Philip Odell (Cesar Romero), a magazine writer from America who is waiting for the fog to lift so he can catch a flight home.

(Image: iPhotoScrap)
(Image: iPhotoScrap)

Soon, a policeman arrives, calling in a report of a body found in the parking lot… a body that Heather soon finds out belongs to her brother.

The police and Philip see it as an unfortunate accident, but Heather believes her brother was murdered. Phil, who has fallen for Heather, decides to try to get to the bottom of the case along with the help of Scotland Yard investigators.

Scotland Yard Inspector was directed by Sam Newfield. The film appears in a “Kit Parker Triple Features” set of three Forgotten Noir films. (Also included in the set are Pier 23 and The Case of the Babysitter, which will be reviewed on TMP in the next two days.) The screenplay was written by Orville H. Hampton from a story by Lester Powell.

The opening of Scotland Yard Inspector is fantastic. In the dark and shadowy night, a woman is seen hitting Danny with her car. The fact that we see a woman kill Danny in the film’s first couple of minutes makes us suspicious of every woman that the investigators meet as they search for the truth about Danny’s death.

From here on a bit of silliness is brought in. Philip and the bartender are mixing a strange drink in a bubbling cauldron, squashing the opening’s drama and setting the tone for the rest of the film. These first few scenes are followed by alternating periods of high tension and slightly corny comedy. Even in the end, this is true; a high-tension scene is followed by an ending that’s pretty silly.

There’s a bit of dullness, too, at some points, but this is generally made up for by the film’s more dramatic sections.

On the positive, pretty good performances are given by the entire cast, with natural delivery of dialogue.

This is a film that has all of the typical elements you’d expect from an “amateur detective” film. There’s a bit of romance, a bit of humor, a mystery with very few clues and the detective is antagonized by unknown people. Despite its slower moments, the film is full of suspicion. This will make it a very fun watch for some, but it will be of less interest to those looking for a new twist on the genre. The score: 3.5/5

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