Director: Jospeh M. Newman
Writers: Richard English and Francis Swann
Genre: Action, Drama, Crime, Thriller, Romance, Film-Noir
Edmond O’Brien – Mal Granger
Joanne Dru – Gail Mason
Otto Kruger – Carl Stephans
Barry Kelley – Vince Walters (as Barry Kelly)
Dorothy Patrick – Trudy Maxwell
Don Porter – Larry Mason (as Donald Porter)
Howard St. John – Lt. Pete Wright
Robert Osterloh – Gizzi
Sammy White – Chippie Evans
711 Ocean Drive features Edmond O’Brien (Mal Granger) as simply a telephone repairman who later gets a bit behind in with his bookmaker. Luckily, the bookmaker known as Sammy White, is someone who recognizes talent when he sees it and he takes O’Brien to wire service operator Barry Kelly.
Kelly himself controls the underground gambling in South California and he adds telecom expert O’Brien to his business. With Granger’s in-depth knowledge of electronics, he becomes an invaluable asset as he sets up a broadcast system for bookmakers, greatly increasing revenue and quickly rising to the top of the ranks.
Following his boss’s murder, O’Brien assumes top position making him a prime target for Lieutenant Pete Wright of the L.A Police. His talent is not questionable, but O’Brien’s reach exceeded his grasp, particularly when he began flirting with Joanne Dru while she was still wife to racketeer Don Porter.
Along the way, O’Brien gets into conflict with a rival group known as ‘the Mob’ and he has to strike a deal to accept them as partners, otherwise he risks getting killed. The deal turns out to be costly and O’Brien wants out.
He murders a hitman who he had previously hired to kill his rival. The incident goes unnoticed and more suspicion is casted on O’Brien. He then comes up with a plan that would help him recover his money and later escape to Guatemala.
Police are informed of O’Brien’s next moves and they start hunting him down together with his friends. They try to escape by joining a tour group and descend into Hoover Dam. Their attempts prove futile as one of his friend collapses from fatigue while on the run. O’Brien is shot dead before he finds his way out of the border.
711 Ocean Drive is a great crime thriller with some element of a noir mood. The modern artwork reproduced on the cover of the film carries the motto. The credits suggest that it was ‘Filmed under police protection’, but this appears to be nothing more than PR.
In the beginning, the character Mal Granger is a cool, relaxed and friendly person. However, as things go on, he becomes a ruthless and murderous guy. In truth, Granger does an impressive job in making this transformation believable.
Edmond O’Brien, an Oscar award winner, was never much of a leading character, but he plays an excellent major role in this 1950 movie. He first starts as a telephone technician whose expertise in electronics soon gets him involved with the telephone hookups and gambling operations.
Basically, 711 Ocean Drive deals with mob businesses, corruption, deceit and also includes a lot of violence. Hardy Kruger acts as the gambling magnate, while Howard St. John plays police detective who is hot on the pursuit of Mal Granger. There’s also some memorable action by Don Porter, whose wife and punching bag, Joanne Dru, becomes Granger’s girlfriend.
When it comes to the backdrop, this film is fantastic. You get to see the Hoover Dam in all its glory since it was pretty new at the time, and it actually provides a superb backdrop for the movie’s climax.
Also, Los Angeles locations such circa 1949-50, Gilmore Field as well as some places at Beverly and Fairfax are great to behold. Just so you know, this baseball park was destroyed when the Dodgers came to town and it’s where CBS TV Studios stand today.
Overall, this piece of art is excellently directed by Joseph M. Newman and is certainly one of the best Columbia Noirs. And if you’re a big fan of Edmond O’Brien, you may also want to watch SHIELD FOR MURDER and D.O.A.
An 8 out of 10 sounds a fair mark for this 1950 film, thanks to its great mix of crime, drama, and suspense. Perhaps the only hiccup was the title as most people would have had a difficult time when relating it to the actual scenes in the film.