Union Station (1950)

Genres - Crime, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Police Detective Film, Crime Thriller, Film Noir  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Although Union Station's screenplay keeps it from being a top notch police thriller, it's still an engrossing and suspenseful nail biter. The problem is the plot, which is fairly routine and which depends upon both sloppy police work and some coincidences that stretch credulity a bit too far. Having said that, Station is also fascinating and hard to tear yourself away from, even if you occasionally wince at some of its twists and turns. One of the most interesting things about Station is its stark viciousness. The villains, as might be expected, are ruthless and cruel (especially lead villain Lyle Bettger); but the police, while on the side of the "angels," can be every bit as ruthless and cynical. Director Rudolph Mate enjoys playing with this fact, creating a hard-as-steel picture that doesn't bother to question the morality involved but simply presents it as a fact and lets the viewer decide what he thinks of it. Mate does an excellent job throughout, but he truly shines in the big setpieces, such as the stockyard scene and the climactic electrified tunnel sequence. William Holden is in top form, bringing dimension to a role that could be one-note, and Nancy Olson is great as the voice of sanity and emotion. Despite its flaws, Station deserves to be seen.