Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 15, No. 14. July 24, 1952
Sir Carol Reed's favourite director is William Wyler ad having seen "Detective Story" it is easy to see why. In this film we have the same concern with significant detail, variety in camera angles and the same understanding and sympathy when handling actors.
Wyler has again carried out his too rigid policy adapting stage plays. This time it's a Broadway success, a story of a detective who, determined to be as unlike his father as possible, unwillingly discovers that he has the name hated flaws. I suspect that Wyler has made this story more effective on the screen than on the stage. His film reeks with police station atmosphere, the camera is observant and bold, and the players act like they've never acted before. (Eleanor Parker surprisingly so). But then they would have to because Wyler does not spare the use of close-ups and other revealing camera poses.
But, alas, nor does he spare the economy. Cigarettes are expensive in this country and I daresay in America too but our detectives waste them with such wild abandonment that I'm beginning to wonder. Authenticity if you like, but please not so much cigarette-throwing.
That's one very minor fault in a film that is a director's triumph. An even greater triumph when you consider the script is slightly trite and brassy. The film says nothing of significance but that does not prevent it from being momentarily exciting and enthralling. "Detective Story" is a film that I can wholeheartedly recommend. But perhaps I am prejudiced; it has no background music.