Scene of the Crime (1949 film)

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Scene of the Crime
Scene of the Crime FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Roy Rowland
Produced by Harry Rapf
Screenplay by Charles Schnee
Based on the story "Smashing the Bookie Gang Marauders" 
by John Bartlow Martin
Starring Van Johnson
Arlene Dahl
Gloria DeHaven
Music by André Previn
Cinematography Paul Vogel
Edited by Robert Kern
Release dates
  • July 28, 1949 (1949-07-28) (United States)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $761,000[1]
Box office $1,391,000[1]

Scene of the Crime is a 1949 film noir directed by Roy Rowland, and starring Van Johnson, Arlene Dahl, Gloria DeHaven, Tom Drake and Leon Ames.[2]


Lieutenant Mike Conovan (Van Johnson), an LAPD homicide detective, investigates when a former partner is found murdered and carrying $1,000 in cash.

Out to dispel a theory that the dead cop was secretly in cahoots with crooks, Conovan's trail leads to a stripper, Lili (Gloria DeHaven), whose ex-boyfriend Turk (Richard Benedict) has apparently pulled off a robbery with a man named Lafe (William Haade). Conovan tracks down Lafe and places him under arrest, but just outside the police station, gunshots ring out, killing Lafe and wounding the detective. Conovan is convinced by his wife Gloria (Arlene Dahl) that police work is too dangerous. He agrees and tenders his resignation.

Lili calls headquarters with a tip for Conovan on where Turk can be found. Detective Fred Piper (John McIntire) intercepts the message, investigates it himself and is gunned down. Conovan concludes that Lili has been double-crossing him, secretly helping Turk all along. Over the objections of his wife, he gets his old job back with the police force. Turk attempts to pull off an armed robbery, but Conovan gives chase. His vehicle crashes into Turk's, causing it to catch fire. Turk confesses to the murders before he dies.



According to film critic Dennis Schwartz, the film is one of "few film noirs attempted by MGM. It came when Dore Schary was the studio head and insisted on producing more realistic films. This is a transitional film from the 1930's gangster film and a forerunner of the modern day TV cop show. It preaches the credo that 'Crime Does Not Pay.'"[3]


According to MGM records the film earned $968,000 in the US and Canada and $423,000 overseas resulting in a profit of $151,000.[1]

Critical response[edit]

Schwartz like the film, writing, "It is directed in a workman like efficiency by Roy Rowland (Rogue Cop) ... It's filmed Dragnet style, following ordinary police procedures in solving the case. The film had a violent conclusion, which underscores the dangers of being an urban cop. It portrayed the hard-working policemen in a sympathetic light and showed how they are often misunderstood by the public and betrayed at times by reporters who are eager to grab the headlines and run with them even though they don't have all the facts. Mike comes out as a good cop, but is disillusioned by his low pay and all the pressures from home, the job and its politics, and from an unappreciative public."[4]




  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Scene of the Crime at the Internet Movie Database.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, October 13, 2004. Accessed: July 12, 2013.
  4. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ibid.

External links[edit]