Judge Jason Panella wrote this review under police protection.
Filmed Under Police Protection!
711 Ocean Drive is film noir through and through, despite the "based on real events" PSAs that bookend the movie. Mal Granger (Edmond O'Brien, D.O.A.) is a hard-working telephone repairman who uses his technical expertise to help his bookie make a few extra bucks. Seemingly overnight, Granger is heading up a west-coast racketeering empire and drawing attention from both the feds and other gangsters. Granger gets cozy with a syndicate boss's wife (Joanne Dru, Red River) and makes plans to stay ahead of everyone chasing him and…well, you know how the rest goes.
Director Joseph M. Newman (This Island Earth) keeps 711 Ocean Drive moving at a breakneck pace. It helps that the cast manages to keep up. O'Brien in particular is relentless; he plays Granger with the snarling confidence of a guy who mistakenly thinks he's a step ahead of everyone. Richard English and Francis Swann's screenplay is mostly solid, but O'Brien turns even the hammy lines into something memorable. (There are some killer one-liners here, including a few innuendo-soaked zingers that somehow managed to slip by the Production Code censors.) There are a handful of hiccups—some of the supporting cast is wooden, and Granger's transformation is unconvincingly abrupt, for instance—but all of the elements gel in the big picture.
711 Ocean Drive also benefits from visual nods to real life events—like Bugsy Siegel's murder—which are all wonderfully handled by ace cinematographer Franz Planer (The Big Country, Breakfast at Tiffany's). Granger's then-high-tech network and methods are filmed with a measure of disconnect that seem to show the value of information and knowledge over strong-arm tactics. As dusty as a phone relay device is now, it looks awesome in the context of the film.
This manufactured-on-demand package from Columbia Pictures provides a nice standard def 1.37:1 full frame transfer. The Dolby 2.0 Mono track leaves much to be desired; lots of dialogue is buried under background noise with no subtitles in sight.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Columbia Pictures
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