Behind the Headlines (1956)

  |  Crime, Drama

Newspaper reporters compete with London police to solve a murder.


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5 July 2000 | Neil-117
| Absorbing crime investigation.
It's hard to know if British newspaper reporters ever really behaved like this, seeing it as their duty to investigate and solve a crime for the sake of a `scoop' story on the front page of the daily newspaper. But who cares? After all, it's an interesting variation on the private detective genre, which in turn is just a variation on the police genre. The main point is that the audience is entertained by the right combination of mystery, suspense, intellectual deduction and risk of violence, in the fight between good and evil.

All of those features are present in this movie and the result is a reasonably satisfying crime story with a London setting. The newspaper reporters sure don't sit around meekly waiting for press releases about people `helping police with their inquiries'. And things are spiced up even more with some love interest to distract our heroes along the way.

But that's not all. A major part of the fascination of this movie is its time-capsule quality. It's a snapshot of Britain and its film industry in the mid 1950's - struggling, but largely failing, to assert some uniqueness in the face of post-war Hollywood domination. Like a number of similar British movies of its day, American stars join local British actors in an attempted blending of trans-atlantic cultures. Chic apartments and widespread use of cocktails and guns remind us of New York. Boxy British motor cars and pokey gas room heaters tell us that after all this is still post-war Europe. Somehow the whole cultural ambience is fake, imitation, envious and ultimately wanting to be somewhere else. Maybe that's partly why the British film industry was engulfed by Hollywood; it could never hope to deliver American cultural aspirations as well as the Americans could.

All in all, this movie provides good basic entertainment and a fascinating glimpse into the not-so-distant past.

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