[Film Review] The Blue Lamp (1950)

The Blue Lamp poster.jpg

Title: The Blue Lamp
Year: 1950
Country: UK
Language: English
Genre: Crime, Drama
Director: Basil Dearden
Writers:
T.E.B. Clarke
Jan Read
Ted Willis
Music: Jack Parnell
Cinematography: Gordon Dines
Cast:
Dirk Bogarde
Jimmy Hanley
Jack Warner
Robert Flemyng
Bernard Lee
Peggy Evans
Gladys Henson
Patric Doonan
Bruce Seton
Meredith Edwards
Clive Morton
Tessie O’Shea
Dora Bryan
Glyn Houston
Rating: 7.2/10

The Blue Lamp 1950.jpg

A non-comedy Ealing Studio production dedicated to the men and women in the police service of Britain, Basil Dearden’s THE BLUE LAMP, whose title is a metonymy of police station, vehemently blends its realism milieu, the increase of post-war crime, with defiantly positive vibes around a virtuous constabulary, the constituents of their vocation runs the gamut from a nattering lady’s lost dog to a deadly gun-point encounter with a reckless misfit Tom Riley (Bogarde).

PC George Dixon (Warner) is a veteran copper on the verge of retirement, but accepts to stay on his beat for an additional 5 more years with alacrity. In spite of Ms. Dixon’s (Henson) initial reluctance, he offers lodging to a newly recruited PC Andy Mitchell (Hanley), who is exactly the same age of his son they lost in the war, and the trio actually gets along pleasantly and forms an ersatz family. On the same beat, Tom Riley and his partner-in-crime Spud (Doonan) are the peace-disturbing pests, from home-invasion, jewelry robbery to a stick-up in a cinema’s wicket goes terribly wrong, George, a foolhardy hero who doesn’t even bat an eyelid in the face of a loaded revolver, is shot by Tom and later dead in the hospital. There is an affecting naiveté in George’s attempt of talking Tom out of his transgression, which we couldn’t bear thinking about nowadays, that is how far our society have been degraded since then.

The rest of the story is to track down the perpetrator unbeknownst to the police through an assiduous and judicious procedural, mostly predicated on the lead of Tom’s girlfriend Diana Lewis (a 29-year-old Peggy Evans in a full-on victim mode of cluelessness, trepidation and hysteria, but she simply cannot pass off as a 17-year-older, no matter how much silver-screen glamuor is vamped up on her), and galvanized by Tom’s unexpectedly bold move, walking into the police station in broad daylight and feigning innocence through his wiles, the film pumps up its tension in a blistering car-chasing money shot in a suspiciously empty London, and slates its spectacular finale inside a jam-packed stadium where a dog race is in full swing and semaphore is signaled on the strength of a collective sense poetic justice, the film is rounded off with a slam-dunk fulfillment.

Jack Warner and Jimmy Hanley both give straight-up appearances of ordinary coppers with a heart, Robert Flemyng as Police Sgt. Roberts and Bernard Lee as Inspector Cherry are the brains in the work, both can actualize a glint of reactionary cognizance with nicety, but indeed, it is Dirk Bogarde’s dodgy villain gets the biggest canvas to run away with all our attention and admiration through his insidious beguilement. For what it is worth, THE BLUE LAMP is a solid testimony of Dearden’s cinematic aptitude and craftsmanship and harks back to a bygone era when the two sides of the law are still distinctively black or white.

referential point: Dearden’s VICTIM (1961, 8.3/10)

Oscar 1950 - The Blue Lamp.jpg

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