Director: Joseph M. Newman
Part of the "law and order"/ "crime doesn't pay" flavor of films that can get lumped in with noir, I'd seen 711 Ocean Drive (1950) listed for a while and figured I should get to it.
It's.... fine. A mix of "technology plus crime!" that is sometimes done well, but usually ends up with a bit of a hokey angle, plus the story of how easy it is to become an LA crime lord because you know how to patch through a phone call is... well, it's a set up.
Starring the actor who always makes me think "well, shit, if that guy could become a lead in movies, why didn't I try?", Edmond O'Brien, the movie follows his phone-company technician who believes anyone who falls in love or who isn't trying to get ahead through whatever's at hand is an idiot (a real charmer, this character), O'Brien is presented by his bookie to a wire service/ gambling empresario. He hooks them up with the magic of RADIO in a scheme I utterly never understood - as it seemed not illegal - but facilitated a lot of illegal bookmaking.
I dunno. There's a lot going on here and you'll either watch the picture or you won't. But it is intensely plot heavy as O'Brien manages to take over ALL CRIME IN CALIFORNIA and then a syndicate moves in and he joins up. Mostly because he wants to get with one of the Syndicate guy's wife, played by notable actor Joanne Dru (Red River, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon).
The film's big set piece is the access they had to Hoover Dam (then called Boulder Dam) and filmed Edmond O'Brien sweating his ass off running all over the damned thing trying to avoid police. It's a reminder that I would very much like to one day tour the dam myself. It seems keen. But the movie makes the interesting choice to just cast the rangers at the Dam as themselves, so suddenly in minute 70 you're getting cops giving wildly wooden performances.
The movie has some weirdly good cinematography, courtesy Franz Planer. They made the most of the on-location work at the dam, but there's also plenty of interesting stuff in a gas works and just in how some sequences were thoughtfully framed or lit.
I didn't hate the movie, but it's not threatening to knock any of my top 10 favorites out of place. Joanne Dru is the best one in the movie, so much so that it can feel like she was imported from a different movie. Edmond O'Brien is never bad, but he is always Edmond O'Brien. I don't know what 711 Ocean Drive is, but I guess it's the house he lives in after becoming a crime boss.
Any threat the movie received from actual organized crime about the secrets of criminal ways supposedly revealed in the film that would have required the production required police protection seems... well, it seems made up. But I guess if you hire cops to hang around and then say "so hot, we needed people legally allowed to shoot people to protect it", that's a pretty good PR hook.
Anyway, stay away from telephone switching equipment. That way lies crime and personal doom.