DIAL RED O. Allied Artists, 1955. Bill Elliott, Helene Stanley, Keith Larsen, Paul Picerni, Jack Kruschen, Elaine Riley. Written and directed by Daniel B. Ullman.

   Getting too old for the B-westerns he’d been making, and with B-westerns on their way out anyway, “Wild” Bill Elliott ended his movie-making career with five low budget police dramas from Allied Artists. This is the first of the five, all of them recently released in a box set from Warner Archives.

   Strangely enough, Elliott never appeared once on television, so when the five crime films didn’t pan out, he seems to have disappeared quietly into retirement. I’ve had the five movies on a want list for quite a while, but while Dial Red O is perfectly acceptable for what it is, I was also disappointed. Except for possibly some of the lighting effects and a jazzy score by Shorty Rogers and his group, there are no noir aspects to the film at all.

   Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But Dial Red O could easily almost have been an extended version of Dragnet on TV, without the monotone deliveries and the distinctive “Dum – – – de – DUM – DUM.

   Not that Elliott doesn’t speak in terse, clipped tones himself. In this film he’s a Hollywood police lieutenant named Andy Flynn, and the fugitive he’s after is an escapee from an army psychiatric hospital whose wife had just divorced him.

   The wife, played by Helene Stanley, has been playing around. After she’s killed by her married lover, the fugitive Flynn os looking for is the obvious suspect.

   From here on, or even before, there are no frills, only straight-forward police work. Nothing less, but nothing more, either.