711 Ocean Drive (1950)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Gangster Film, Police Detective Film  |   Release Date - Jul 1, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 102 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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A real firecracker of a film noir, 711 Ocean Drive is a treat for fans of the genre. Combining noir with a semi-documentary approach, 711 is ostensibly an expose of gambling rackets, but at heart it's an exploration of an ambitious individual whose quick rise through the ranks of organized crime is followed by a precipitous fall. That fall is preordained, because this man doesn't understand that in a corporate structure -- even a mob ruled one -- an outsider has to make a place for himself within the structure rather than try to co-opt it altogether. In other words, a classic noir set-up in which fatalism and nihilism are implicit, even as the protagonist struggles against it. But what makes 711 so much fun isn't this theme but the plot, the characters, the dialogue and the way all are handled by director Joseph Newman and his creative team. The technological aspect of the plot was a fresh idea in 1950 and still retains interest today. The characters are well drawn by screenwriters Richard English and Francis Swann, who also provide plenty of snappy repartee along the way. Newman and cinematographer Franz Planer have a field day visually, with sweeping panoramas of street scenes and shots that linger just a second too long on curious buildings or "hip" furnishings. The two pull out all the stops for the 10-minute climax at Boulder Dam, which is just about perfect. The director is aided by Edmond O'Brien's excellent portrayal of a brusque, frustrated working man who doesn't know when to stop once he takes things into his own hand, as well as by Otto Kruger's superb gangster.