Murder is My Beat (1955)

Ray Patrick (Paul Langton) is a good detective, respected by others in his field. When called to investigate the murder of Fred Deane, Ray meets Eden Lane (Barbara Payton), the prime suspect in the case. Eden was Fred’s girlfriend. She finds herself in trouble when the landlady, Miss Farrell (Kate McKenna), swears that she was involved in Fred’s death.

Before meeting Eden, Ray has to track her down. He starts by going to her apartment, where he meets her roommate Patsy (Tracy Roberts). Ray tracks Eden to a lodge in the mountains, but when he arrives there, he finds that she may be innocent. She swears she didn’t know that Frank was dead, and had instead gone on the run because she had hit him with a statue during an argument.

Is Eden truly innocent? And if she is, who really killed Fred? Ray must try to crack the case to save a potentially innocent woman from prison.

(Image via Great Old Movies)

(Image via Great Old Movies)

Murder is My Beat was directed by Edgar G. Ulmer.

“Homicide’s got a lot in common with the fire department that way. The alarm starts ringin’ and we’re off whether we want to or not.”

This intriguing mystery at first has a homicide detective heading into the snowy mountains in search of a beautiful club singer… and potential murderess. The snowy setting, although not nearly used throughout the entire film (or even the majority), is a nice change of pace from the usual gritty city.

These snowy scenes aren’t the only attribute that adds to the film’s appeal. From the opening, I was enraptured by the score, which is a bit over-the-top at times — often much more dramatic than what’s actually happening on screen. But it’s great to listen to and adds wonderfully to the film’s atmosphere.

(Image via Dave Kehr)

(Image via Dave Kehr)

Successfully-built intrigue and wonderful music aside, the most fascinating part of the film for me was definitely the character of Eden. The film sends us back and forth regarding her innocence. At first, she seems ready to turn herself in, and we accept her guilt… but then we learn that she had no idea that her “victim” was dead. She thought she’d be turning herself in for a lesser crime. Has she really killed him, and used some Oscar-worthy lying skills to make it seem like she is innocent? Or is she genuinely innocent?

The answers don’t come quickly, but the story grips the viewer as Eden’s guilt-vs.-innocence dilemma ping-pongs back and forth. The film explores a lot of questions about doubt, the criminal investigation process, the legal system, truth, and innocence. It’s very engaging, with plenty of moments of excitement — not necessarily suspense, but a great mystery with high stakes.

Another element of the film I loved was that fishy roommate, Patsy. Tracey Roberts’ performance is a bit hammy, but effective. I enjoyed watching her and wished she had more screen time.

Murder is My Beat fizzles a bit later on, as the truth becomes obvious, but overall it’s a very good watch. There’s quite a shocking end, despite the fact that the whodunit has been figured out and revealed. From the first scenes to those shocking final moments, Murder is My Beat never fails to keep the viewer’s attention. Recommended!

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3 thoughts on “Murder is My Beat (1955)

  1. Todd B says:

    I wonder how many films we can add to the ‘snow noir’ sub-genre besides this one? One off the top of my head is ‘Nightfall’, with Aldo Ray and Anne Bancroft. Any others you can think of? (And ‘Holiday Inn’ doesn’t count!)

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