06 July 2012

Cop Hater ('58)

"They found him laying there like garbage outside some crummy closed-up movie palace."
a crime film from 1958
directed by William Berke

Cop Hater is a make-believe police fantasy film from 1958, based on the samely-named Ed McBain novel from 1956, apparently based on the make-believe police procedural show Dragnet. Stuff like this I love -- a movie that's a depiction of an altered reality. A story about a dream.

"A cop was killed tonight, that's the megillah, and he was killed with a .45"

Loved the classy sleazoid vibe of this pulp melodrama trash-fest. I guess McBain knew the short route to realism was vices, fatal flaws, tragedy, and dreary sensationalism. The title -- Cop Hater -- bravo.

"Somewhere, in this weird wide wonderful city of ours, some crazy bird, with a -- kink in his brain, is oiling up his .45, for jungle hunting. His crazy brain wants cops. Cops. Cops."

A party checklist could be made for this movie: policemen, police station, world-weary old-timers, a youth gang, newly-wed officer, baby,
check out this baby doll used as real baby, creeeepy
collusions, a grumpy sexpot wife, a deaf and dumb girlfriend,
seriously, one cop's girlfriend is a cutie mute/deaf girl
heroine addiction ("all he cares about is the mainline"), alcoholics, journalists, undercover operations, police brutality, identity mixup, etc. 
modern science
"Well if it don't make sense there's no sense talking about it. I'll let ya know if it shapes."

The movie isn't a reflection of the real world, it's a magnification of a world created by popular culture. It's tons-of-fun bullshit, especially if you're into crime cinema's most romanticized symbols: babes and bullets.

When the movie was made William Berke was toward the end of his long directing career, which had begun in 1935 with a movie called Toll of the Desert. His best movie is a matter of esoteric debate, he never helmed a "classic," but his directing career spanned many years and included dozens of movies; 95 IMDb directing credits, ~20 of them tv credits, and earlier acting and writing credits.

I wonder what it felt like to see this movie in '58, I bet it was fun. The movie is a cheapo, the sound recording is tinny, and locations seem reused for budgetary reasons. The acting is wooden or theatrical, either method amplifying the absurdity of the dialogue. There's no reason for this movie to be someone's favorite. It doesn't add to the well from which it draws. But I think it's wonderfully giddy and entertaining. Who will carry it into the future, will it be carried into the future. It's sad and weird to think about this movie's future. Who will care about it, and who will see it. Who will know its name. 

In this violent scene a man's head is slammed against the floor
Cop Hater, I know and respect thee.

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