Detective Story is an adaptation of play, and potentially that can be seen as most of the action takes place in a single room. William Wyler though manages to never make the material seem stagy infusing the right sort of life within that single setting. Now it is there where the film really thrives. Seeing the detectives work the smaller cases, such as dealing with a shoplifter, are oddly enough the most engaging elements. The actors and Wyler makes this moments feel so honest which range from being rather amusing to rather moving. The least engaging aspect of the film actually concerns our main detective played by Kirk Douglas. Douglas's gives a good performance but the film gets bogged down in the character's backstory as well as the backstory of his wife. All of that material feels extremely melodramatic and frankly ill-fitting to the rest of the film. With Douglas's character's reason for "hating crime" seeming out of a rote detective novel and the secret of his wife being more than a little convenient and implausible. That indeed is the main story but the supporting material is the better material. Luckily the film does have a balance between that main story and all the little side stories which do make up for the weaknesses of that mains story.