Cop Hater (1958)

Genres - Mystery  |   Sub-Genres - Police Detective Film  |   Release Date - Oct 1, 1958 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 75 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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William Berke's Cop Hater was as new a type of police thriller as its source book, Ed McBain's Cop Hater, was a new type of police fiction. McBain (now equally well known under the name Evan Hunter) admitted that a major influence in his approach to the writing of police proceedurals came from the Dragnet radio show, and he took a somewhat similar approach in writing Cop Hater, immersing himself firsthand in the methods and operations of the New York City Police Department, although he set his 87th Precinct, the focus of his crime stories, in a mythical city. Additionally, his notion was that the precinct detective squad, rather than one or two of its members, would be the "hero" of this and subsequent books. The film Cop Hater focused a bit more on Detective Steve Carelli (Robert Loggia) than the novel did, but also contains 90 percent of the content of the novel, including much of the dialogue, some of it amazingly raw (only the direct references to sex and related matters are toned down or eliminated). Berke's movie, because it is a visual creation, shows the Dragnet influence more overtly than McBain's book, but melds it with a gritty New York setting and incorporates such realities of late-'50s urban life as street gangs (one led by a 22-year-old Jerry Orbach, playing a Latino thug) into its action with surprising deftness. Robert Loggia's portrayal of Carelli is more emotional than audiences were accustomed to in this kind of drama, and it made for some good verbal sparring between the various characters. The film also captures with great success the palpable frustrations of being a police detective, as well as incidental (but important) details, such as the brutality and tension-inducing characteristics of a New York City heatwave, and the mix of fear and tension that pervades the action. The presence of Loggia, Gerald S. O'Laughlin, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Vincent Gardenia, Jerry Orbach, and the rest of the mostly New York-based cast also helps give Cop Hater the look and texture of an episode of Naked City, a then-contemporary New York police series, but with nastier, grittier action.