711 Ocean Drive (1950): Joseph M. Newman’s Procedural Crime Noir, Starring Edmond O’Brien, Joanne Dru, Otto Kruger

Edmond O’Brien is excellent as the hot-tempered, ambitious syndicate chief in 711 Ocean Drive, Joseph M. Newman’s procedural crime film noir, co-starring Joanne Dru and Otto Kruger.

Technician Mal Granger, with knowledge of phones and electronics, is hired by gangster Vince Walters to expand Walters’ legit business that’s a front for an illegal bookmaking operation.

The expansion is a success, and Granger develops a better system for gathering information at racetracks.

When Granger threatens to leave unless Walters makes him a 20% partner, Walters accedes to the demand.

When Walters tries to collect, the bookie kills him, and then kills himself. Granger takes control of the wire service and the racket, making him target for Lieutenant Wright of the Los Angeles police.

East Coast mobster Larry Mason is sent by boss Carl Stephans to persuade Granger to join his syndicate. Granger decides to accept 50/50 split with his new partners. Some of the bookies do not like the new arrangement (and the extra 20% “protection” fee) and refuse to go along, but they are roughed up by Syndicate goons.

When Granger’s assistant Trudy discovers he is shortchanged, Granger is told that the shortfall is the result of “necessary expenses.” He vows to get his money.

Granger and Gail pursue their attraction. After Mason beats Gail, Granger hires the hitman Gizzi to kill Mason. Gizzi decides to blackmail Granger, who agrees to pay $25,000 at a Malibu Pier, but Gizzi announces he intends to become Granger’s silent partner. Granger uses his car to crush Gizzi to death against the pier’s railing, sending the body over the side.

Using his knowledge, Granger places a call to Wright that makes it appear he is in Palm Springs and thus has alibi for the murder. Wright tapes the call and hears a streetcar whistle. As there are no streetcars in Palm Springs, the police deduce he was in town.

With the police closing in, Granger and Gail flee to the Boulder Dam, trying to cross the state line to get out of Wright’s jurisdiction. But they encounter a roadblock, which makes them join a tour group and descend into the dam.

In the end, Gail collapses from fatigue, and Granger is shot and killed before he can find his way to the Arizona side.

Variety praised the film: “Operations of the syndicates are given a realistic touch by the screenplay, and Newman’s direction keeps the action at a fast pace.

Director Newman later remarked: “It was a tremendously successful picture that got good reviews and the studio liked it. After that picture I was in great demand.” Indeed, after 711 Ocean Drive, Newman signed a two-year contract with Twentieth Century-Fox.

Cast
Edmond O’Brien as Mal Granger
Joanne Dru as Gail Mason
Otto Kruger as Carl Stephans
Barry Kelley as Vince Walters
Dorothy Patrick as Trudy Maxwell
Don Porter as Larry Mason
Howard St. John as Lieutenant Pete Wright
Robert Osterloh as Gizzi
Sammy White as Chippie Evans

Note:

TCM showed this movie on January 7, 2022.

Joseph M. Newman Filmography

Northwest Rangers (1942)

Diary of a Sergeant (1945, short)

Jungle Patrol (1948)

The Great Dan Patch (1949)

Abandoned (1949)

711 Ocean Drive (1950)

The Guy Who Came Back (1951)

Love Nest (1951)

I’ll Get You for This (1951)

Pony Soldier (1952)

Red Skies of Montana (1952)

The Outcasts of Poker Flat (1952)

Dangerous Crossing (1953)

The Human Jungle (1954)

This Island Earth (1955)

Kiss of Fire (1955)

Flight to Hong Kong (1956)

Death in Small Doses (1957)

Fort Massacre (1958)

The Gunfight at Dodge City (1959)

The Big Circus (1959)

Tarzan, the Ape Man (1959)

A Thunder of Drums (1960)

Twenty Plus Two (1960)

The Lawbreakers (1961)

The Big Bankroll (1961)

The George Raft Story (1962)