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Plot, Details & Awards

Detective Story

(1951)
103min.
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Plot & Details

Sidney Kingsley's Broadway play Detective Story was praised for its realistic view of an event-filled day in a single police precinct station. The film, directed by meticulous taskmaster William Wyler, manages to retain this realism, even allowing for the star-turn performance of Kirk Douglas. A stickler for the letter of the law, Detective James McLeod (Douglas) is not averse to using strong-arm methods on criminals and witnesses alike in bringing lawbreakers to justice. He is particularly rough on a first-time offender (Craig Hill), on whom the rest of the force is willing to go easy because of the anguish of his girlfriend (Cathy O'Donnell). But McLeod's strongest invective is reserved for shady abortion doctor Karl Schneider (George MacReady); McLeod all but ruins the case against Schneider by beating him up in the patrol wagon. When McLeod discovers that his own wife (Eleanor Parker) had many years earlier lost a baby in one of Schneider's operations, and that the baby's father was gangster Tami Giacoppetti (Gerald Mohr), it is too much for the detective to bear. Punctuating the grim proceedings with brief moments of humor is future Oscar winner Lee Grant, reprising her stage role as a timorous shoplifter; it would be her last Hollywood assignment until the early 1960s, thanks to the iniquities of the blacklist. Despite small concessions to Hollywood censorship, Detective Story largely upheld the power of its theatrical original, and it forms a clear precursor to such latter-day urban police dramas as NYPD Blue.

Awards

Academy Awards

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1951 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Supporting Actress Lee Grant Nominated
1951 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Screenplay Philip Yordan Nominated
1951 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Actress Eleanor Parker Nominated
1951 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Director William Wyler Nominated
1951 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Screenplay Robert Wyler Nominated

Golden Globes

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1951 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Lee Grant Nominated
1951 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama Kirk Douglas Nominated
1951 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Picture - Drama Nominated

Cannes Film Festival

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1952 Cannes Film Festival Best Actress Lee Grant Won

Directors Guild of America

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1951 Directors Guild of America Best Director William Wyler Nominated

Edgar Allan Poe Awards

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1951 Edgar Allan Poe Awards Best Screenplay Philip Yordan Won
1951 Edgar Allan Poe Awards Best Screenplay Robert Wyler Won

National Board of Review

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1951 National Board of Review Best Picture Nominated

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