Code Two (1953)

The adventures of motorcycle cops, from their academy days, to chasing crooked truckers.

Director:

Fred M. Wilcox

Motor-Cross Meets Dragnet

27 November 2013 | by dougdoepke (Claremont,USA) – See all my reviews

Solid little programmer from MGM’s B period. The documentary influence of TV’s Dragnet (1951-1959) is apparent in the early police training segment that looks like it was done at the actual Academy. Three trainees buddy-up there, but later switch to the better-paying motorcycle division. There they get involved with black market beef haulers and excitement ensues. Director Wilcox keeps things moving smoothly, while the filming in and around LA lends a realistic feel. Then too, Wynn gets to practice his tart brand of sarcasm as a tough but fair training officer, lending helpful color. As could be expected, the girls (Forrest and Stewart) are strictly secondary, as wife and girlfriend, respectively.

Meeker gets to play a cocky trainee in what could have been a warm-up for his classic Mike Hammer in Kiss Me Deadly (1955). I hope they paid him double for all his stunt work at the end. He earns it. For fans of two-wheelers, there’s a lot of motorcycle cross-country action that shows off their rugged versatility. And what a coincidence, as another reviewer points out, that so many of the male cast went on to cowboy starring roles on TV—look for Chuck Connors as a deputy sheriff in an office scene about 2/3 of the way through. All in all, it’s a solid programmer of the sort soon to migrate to TV, but holds interest, nevertheless.

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Great bad guy vs. motorcycle cops! Lots of old Harley’s!

Author: ihunt4u from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
23 July 2000

I saw this movie as a kid when i was about 13 or so. I remeber this as one of the coolest movies I have ever seen. I am sure, now it would seem a little less dramatic, but it has stayed with me all these years. There is one scene where the truck hijackers are stopped by a cycle cop and when they get the chance to knock him out they do. They then take him and put him under the tires of the big rig and {pretty violent for back then} back up over him. A young chuck Conners, Ralph Meeker and Keenan Wynn make this a must see for biker, crime and film noir fans. I believe Ted Turner owns this movie and I wish he would release it on video. Enjoy the film if you can ever see it.

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Tribute to the Cop on the Cycle

8/10
Author: kidboots from Australia
14 February 2013
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

By 1953 Hollywood’s biggest threat was television, much like radio had been in the twenties. Films were coming up with different gimmicks, like 3D and widescreen ie Vista Vision etc but television came up with some interesting ideas as well, like the proliferation of realistic police shows such as “Dragnet” (which actually was developed from the noir movie “He Walked By Night”). It seemed that every crime division had a series – “Racket Squad”, “Federal Men”, “Decoy” had Beverly Garland as an undercover cop and there was even a “Code 3” series which was a nitty gritty show on police procedure that producers hoped would compete with “Dragnet” – but it didn’t.

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This movie starts with some graphic scenes of the aftermath of crashes, some statistics and some grim commentary – “this woman was on her way to the beauty parlour – she won’t be so beautiful now”, then the titles come up, trying to fool the cinema audience into thinking that they were watching a movie length “Dragnet” – but they were not fooled for long. This film was a tribute to the motorcycle cop and after 20 minutes showing the basic training of the rookie cop, it soon got bogged down in their personal lives – until the last 20 minutes. There are three buddies, Russ Hartley (Robert Horton), happily married but who can’t bring himself to tell his wife he has applied for motor cycle duty, Harry Whenlon (Jeff Richards) whose father was killed in the line of duty and O’Flair (Ralph Meeker) a wise guy and skirt chaser. Keenan Wynn plays tough but fair Jumbo Culdane who can see O’Flair has the makings of a good cop.

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It takes the death of Whenlon for O’Flair to come to his senses and the last part of the film has all the action as he tracks down and follows the cattle truck to it’s destination. There are a couple of realistic fights and a shoot out all played out around a vat of quick lime. William Campbell, billed as “the killer” is not so lucky – he is one of the first to go. There is a pretty cheesy ending as luscious Elaine Stewart, whose performance in the film should have been a kick start to better things, promises to visit O’Flair in hospital again, but two seconds later he proves he has not lost his sleazy ways as he quickly chats up a nurse.

Sally Forrest, who had the very thankless role of Mary, Hartley’s wife, was a discovery of Ida Lupino’s and proved she was up to the high dramatic performances in some of Ida’s ground breaking films. However when Ida stopped directing, Sally became just another pretty leading lady and “Code Two” was the beginning of the end. The rest of the cast was made up of actors who would make their own name in TV (Robert Horton, Chuck Connors in a bit part) and James Craig, probably hoping this would lead to a comeback.

With his easy going style (usually hiding psychotic tendencies) and his natural acting, it was hard to believe Ralph Meeker was not a film veteran when he made this. He was a stage veteran though and went on to star in the Broadway production of “Picnic”. I always thought he was the perfect “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” leading man, starring in the very first episode “Revenge”.

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Better than you would Think

8/10
Author: gordonl56 from Canada
24 November 2013
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

CODE TWO – 1953

A somewhat bottom end, for MGM Studios, that is, tale of three rookie cops who join, The Los Angeles Police Department. The three, Ralph Meeker, Robert Horton and Jeff Richards become friends as they work their way through the training.

Meeker is the cocky one who can’t wait to see some action. Horton is married with a young son. Richards joined because his father had been killed in the line of duty on the force.

In charge of rookie training is, Lt. James Craig and Sgt Keenan Wynn. The smart arse, Meeker is nearly washed out the first week for not being a “team player”. Wynn however sees something under all the bravado and gives him a second chance. The three make it through basic and are sworn in as L.A. Police Officers.

They are all assigned to various mundane tasks such as stock taking, school crossing guard etc. This is rather boring and they really what to get to the rough and ready action. All three volunteer for the motorcycle unit. This means more cash, a fancy uniform and out of the office time. That is after several more weeks of training.

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Meeker and Richards both take a shine to Horton’s sister in-law, Elaine Stewart. Meeker hound dogs her while Richards is more laid back. Stewart eventually picks Richards and they become an item.

The trio of rookies all pass the course and get assigned to traffic duty. Traffic stops and accident calls fill their day. Meeker fills his date book with numbers from the tickets he hands out to pretty girls. This happy life ends when Richards pulls over a truck one night for running a stop sign. The driver, Jonathan Cott and his passenger, William Campbell have a truckload of hot cattle. They truck cattle stolen from small ranches etc to an out of town slaughterhouse. The cattle are good for $275 a head. Campbell belts Richards across the back of the head with a monkey wrench. He then backs the truck up over Richards a few times. Then they drive off into the night.

Meeker and Horton take the murder of their friend hard and ask for special duty in the hunt for the killers. They cruise throughout L.A. looking for the truck a witness saw.

The pair of officers pull over every truck that even remotely looks like the suspect vehicle. No joy there, so they go plainclothes on disguised motorcycles. One evening, Meeker lucks onto the right truck and trails it. The two in the truck cab, driver Cott and his buddy, Campbell, manage to shake Meeker off their tail.

Meeker quickly realizes he has lost the truck and backtracks. He follows a small dirt rode off the highway and spots the truck. It is offloading some cattle at a small slaughterhouse. Meeker hides his bike in the brush and heads in for a closer look see.

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He sees all he needs to and is about to head back to his bike to radio for backup, when he is discovered by Campbell and company. Meeker manages to get in a couple of punches and then draw his revolver. Shots are exchanged with Campbell getting blown down for a ten count. A full-fledged, drag out fistfight between Cott and Meeker is needed before Meeker can get away.

Meeker hotfoots it to his bike and calls for some pronto type help. Horton, Keenan Wynn and several carloads of LA’s finest, arrive in the best tradition of the cavalry to save the day.

All the bad guys are rounded up and their operation closed down.

This one starts out like a recruitment film for the L.A. Police Department. It does change pace at about the 35 minute mark and goes quickly from first, to fourth gear. It then plays out for the next 35 like a fast paced cops and robbers film of the 40’s.

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I must admit I was not expecting much from the film but was pleased with the bang-up ending. The shootout and fight in the darkened slaughterhouse is handled very well. It was interesting to see an unbilled Chuck Connors (RIFLEMAN) with a small bit as a LA cop. Running for only 69 minutes, it does not overstay its welcome.

The director of this quickie was Fred M Wilcox. Wilcox only made 10 films of which LASSIE COME HOME and FORBIDDEN PLANET would be the best known. The d of p was Ray June. June, a long time MGM hand, worked mainly on comedy features. Some of these include, I DOOD IT, A SOUTHERN YANKEE, CALLOWAY WENT THAT AWAY, HOUSEBOAT and THE COURT JESTER. He did touch on film noir with SHADOW ON THE WALL.

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