“When the law is suspended for a price, and truth and justice can be peddled on the marketplace, then every citizen’s in danger — and the law belongs to the highest bidder!”
A rookie cop (Darren McGavin) in Brooklyn goes undercover to expose rampant corruption in the police force — but the well-being of both his wife (Peggy McCay) and partner (Brian Hutton) are put in jeopardy when he actively pursues a widow (Margaret Hayes) who may have information to share.
This early precursor to 1990’s Internal Affairs tells the gritty, true-to-life tale of rampant police corruption in 1950s Brooklyn, and the neophyte cops who were sent undercover to secure incriminating evidence against their degenerate elders. Darren McGavin is perfectly cast as a young war veteran who is immediately comfortable with the deception required of his new job: although he’s clearly the film’s protagonist, he’s ultimately a flawed hero, someone we can’t help silently despising as he lunges a bit too whole-heartedly into an affair with a likable widow (Hayes) while his loyal wife (McCay) waits naively at home. As a narrative, The Case Against Brooklyn is flawed by its overly perfunctory exposition and didactic narration (similar to that in Anthony Mann’s T-Men); but once McGavin enters the story and the voice-over mysteriously disappears, the story unfolds with tension and excitement until its bittersweet ending.
P.S. McGavin is one of the more unexpectedly athletic actors I’ve seen in a while — watch how he leaps, then rolls across his bed to answer his ringing telephone, or how competently he (nearly) takes out two bookie thugs sent to collect money from him.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Darren McGavin as Pete Harris
- Margaret Hayes as Lil Polombo
- Many exciting, tension-filled sequences
No, but it’s certainly worth a look if you can find a copy.