Turning Point, The (1952): Dieterle’s Film Noir, Starring William Holden, Edmond O’Brien, Alexis Smith

William Dieterle directed The Turning Point, a film noir starring William Holden, Edmond O’Brien and Alexis Smith, inspired by the Kefauver Committee’s hearings about organized crime.

The Turning Point
The Turning Point.JPG

Theatrical release poster

John Conroy is a Special Prosecutor, given powers to break up the crime syndicate in a large midwestern town. His investigation focuses on Neil Eichelberger and his criminal operation.

Local journalist Jerry McKibbon (Holden) is sympathetic, but feels Conroy isn’t experienced enough to handle the task.

Meanwhile, Matt Conroy, John Conroy’s father, a local policeman, is assigned to be his chief investigator.

When McKibbon discovers that Matt Conroy is a crooked cop, working for Eichelberger, he demands that he break with the mobster, or he’ll inform John of the duplicity.

To vindicate himself, Matt procures a damning file from the D.A.’s office that Eichelberger has requested. Even before this double-cross is exposed, Eichelberger has Matt murdered in order to instill fear in his operation and show that Eichelberger is in control.

Matt is killed during a phony robbery, and his assassin, Monty LaRue, is immediately killed in turn.

John Conroy’s investigation is uncovering Eichelberger’s crimes, and in anticipation of having their books subpoenaed, Eichelberger has the building housing them burned. He has callous disregard for the people renting there, and all are killed.

An expose of Matt’s murder reveals that Eichelberger had LaRue killed also. His widow Carmelina LaRue can prove this, and contacts McKibbon in order to exact revenge, but is chased away by Eichelberger’s henchmen. Since McKibbon is the only one that can identify Carmelina, her husband’s murderer Roy Ackerman demands that McKibbon be killed, but Eichelberger refuses.

Ackerman hires a hit man, and McKibbon is lured to boxing match where he can be shot. Meanwhile, Carmelina manages to reach John Conroy and her testimony is sufficient to topple Eichelberger.

The hired gun shoots McKibbon, and as he lies dying, Eichelberger and his crew are arrested. Conroy’s epitaph for McKibbon is: “Sometimes someone has to pay an exorbitant price to uphold the majesty of the law.”

There are several locations of historical interest in Downtown Los Angeles: The original Angel’s Flight funicular railway, Hotel Belmont (Neither landmark has remained). Other sites include the San Fernando Building in the Bank District and a Metropolitan Water District building at 3rd and Broadway.

Actress Carolyn Jones made her debut in this movie.


The Turning Point was presented on Broadway Playhouse May 13, 1953 via a 30-minute adaptation starred Dane Clark.

William Holden as Jerry McKibbon
Edmond O’Brien as John Conroy
Alexis Smith as Amanda Waycross
Tom Tully as Matt Conroy
Ed Begley as Neil Eichelberger
Danny Dayton as Roy Ackerman
Adele Longmire as Carmelina LaRue
Ray Teal as Clint, Police Captain
Ted de Corsia as Harrigan
Don Porter as Joe Silbray
Howard Freeman as Fogel
Neville Brand as Red
Carolyn Jones (uncredited) as Miss Lilian Smith


Directed by William Dieterle
Screenplay by Warren Duff, story by Horace McCoy (better known for “They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?”)
Produced by Irving Asher
Cinematography Lionel Lindon
Edited by George Tomasini

Production and distribution company: Paramount

Release date: November 14, 1952 (New York)

Running time: 85 minutes


TCM showed this movie on Feb 5, 2022.