Rogue Cop (1954)
“Temptation is a thing called money and a red-lipped blonde!”
Director: Roy Rowland
Cast: Robert Taylor, Janet Leigh, George Raft
Synopsis: Crooked cop Christopher Kelvaney (Robert Taylor) has been on the take for so long that all the backstreet thugs and shady politicians in town know they can buy their way out of trouble any time. Then Kelvaney’s straight-arrow little brother, Eddie (Steve Forrest), joins the force, but refuses to get paid off in return for keeping quiet after he witnesses a mob shootout…
Rogue Cop is a slick, sharply-scripted thriller that is very much a product of its era, focusing more on the glamorous, higher echelons of organised crime – a rarefied world in which sharp-suited mobsters live in spacious apartments, and discuss the murder of incorruptible cops over dry martinis.
It’s difficult to think of a better choice than Robert Taylor for the role of crooked cop Chris Kelvaney; Taylor’s rugged, slightly dour features consummately portray the weary cynicism of an essentially decent man who has allowed himself to be soured by the world in which he operates. His character is complex and multi-layered, extremely well-written, and the dialogue for his – and all the other characters – is hard-bitten without sounding over-stylized.
Every major character in this movie is well-defined, motivated (or de-motivated) by complex emotions and ambitions; any one of these characters could carry a picture on their own: an ageing George Raft as the hoodlum boss (catch the subtly conflicting emotions on his face after he jettisons his drunken moll); Janet Leigh as the nightclub-singer with a past; Anne Francis as Raft’s drunken moll, driven to drink for reasons that are never clearly disclosed (which makes her character all the more effective because she and Raft clearly have feelings for each other); Taylor’s honest colleague (a small role, but effectively played by Robert Ellenstein). Only the priest – Kelvaney’s conscience – seems superfluous.
If, like me, you’re a fan of tough, gritty noir movies give this one a viewing — chances are you won’t be disappointed.
(Reviewed 29th January 2002)