J. Arthur Rank has turned out a restrained cops and robbers movie, called "The Blue Lamp." He tries to make his murder-mystery unusual by adding some authentic shots of Scotland Yard at work. But the result is a poor blend of half documentary and half fiction; neither half is very good.
The movie begins with some random shots of the London police force at work and at play. Once the audience is convinced that policemen are human, the camera centers on rookie Andy Mitehell (Jimmy Hanley), who is being shown around by old timer George Dixon (Jack Warner). After about fifteen minutes of this, the gangster part begins with the entrance of two recent graduates of the juvenile delinquent class who are shunned by professional crooks. since London Bobbies don't carry guns, old George soon finds himself face to face with the young gangsters and can do nothing but walk slowly towards them and take two slugs in the gut. Old George dies. Then the chase is on. The C.I.D. (Criminal Investigation Division) starts a slow but methodical chase. the killer is finally cornered at a dog track and captured by none other than young Andy.
some of the authentic seenes of the workings of the Yard are good, particularly the scientific car chase with several prowl cars in radio contact encircling the killer; but these few scenes are not enough to make an interesting movie. The story is ordinary cops and robbers at heart. The killer's bungling, instead of the brilliance of Scotland yard, leads to his final capture.
Furthermore, the acting is not up to the usual English standards. Jimmy Hanley plays the rookie with a completely blank expression. Dirk Bogarde portrays the mean and always-villainous killer with a similar lack of imagination. Jack warner acts the old Bobby very well; it was too bad he had to be the corpse.
Supporting players add some fine humor (an old lady reporting a lost dog at the police station) and pathos (old George's wife). But again these couldn't rescue the weak story.
A publicity release says, "The Blue Lamp' is probably the only picture for which a script was written in the front seat of a police prowl car." Maybe that's why the author forgot that authentic photography alone can't make a good movie.