In watching COP HATER, I was amazed by the number of familiar actors in it. The amazing was that all of them were decades younger, some more than a few, than I was used to seeing. Robert Loggia(star of one of my favorite old series, T. H. E. Cat) stars as Steve Carelli and Gerald S. O’Loughlin(billed without the S) as his partner, Detective Mike Maguire. Minor roles included Vincent Gardenia(billed as Vince) as Danny Gimp, Steve Franken in a small role as a break-in suspect in a line-up, and Jerry Orbach as the leader of a teenage gang called the Grovers. Excuse me, a social club. They were Gardenia and Orbach’s second film roles, both credited after uncredited bit parts in their first. Bill Neff appears as rookie cop Kling, wounded in a tussle with the Grovers and before he joins the 87th as a detective.
Some of the other principals included Ellen Parker as Teddy Franklin, Carelli’s deaf-mute girl friend(they were planning to marry in a couple of weeks), Shirley Ballard as Alice Maguire, wife of Carelli’s partner, and Russell Hardie as Lieutenant Byrnes.
Based on Ed McBain’s first 87th Precinct novel, someone is killing cops. It’s a hot July in 1956 and rain is a distant memory. The first cop to go down is Mike Reardon, an 87th cop on the way to his night shift job, the second, his black partner, Dave Foster.
The city is in an uproar. A reporter thinks it’s a gang member and snoops around. That was what got Kling shot in a case of mistaken identity. In civvies, the Grovers thought he was the reporter.
When the third cop is killed, Carelli’s best friend and partner Maguire, he goes on a bender and reveals thoughts he’d had on the case to the reporter. Supposed to be off the record, it gets published anyway, putting Carelli on Byrnes’ s**t list, and leaves Teddy in danger, her name and address appearing in the newspaper article.
The film was shot in black and white and has a stark look, perfect noir. The script was by mystery novelist Henry Kane. A nice look which made for an interesting film. Not perfect though. To my untrained eye, some of the acting was a bit amateurish.
Overall, I enjoyed it. It’s been a few years since I read the novel and details escaped me. I was surprised by the revelations at the end. The forensics were primitive compared to today, but still good. The short bit with the expert revealed a lot about the killer before we actually saw him.
Worth a look if you can find it.