The Turning Point (1952)

Genres - Crime, Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Political Drama  |   Run Time - 85 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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One of several good but undistinguished films that William Holden made between Sunset Boulevard and Stalag 17, The Turning Point is a fairly typical 1950s film noir, enlivened somewhat by its McCarthy-era setting. Unfortunately, Warren B. Duff's screenplay doesn't take advantage of this aspect of the story, settling instead for a fairly routine crime story with less than sparkling dialogue. William Dieterle's direction is also fairly routine, although both the direction and screenplay come alive during the big fire scene. The cast, including Holden and Alexis Smith, is solid, but nothing more, with one exception. That exception is Ed Begley, whose delicious villain has a fire and a life that the rest of the film lacks. This does tend to throw things a bit out of whack -- after all, we're not supposed to root for the bad guy -- but it's hard to resist Begley's fascinating turn. Turning Point is certainly enjoyable, but it's only when Begley is onscreen that it becomes anything more.