Nick Bianco is caught during a botched jewellery heist. The prosecution offer him a more lenient sentence if he squeals on his accomplices but he doesn't roll over on them. Three years into the sentence an event changes his mind.
Bill, Martha and their little child Hal are spending a quiet winter Sunday in their cosy house when they get an unexpected visit from Mike Nickerson and Tony Rodriguez. Mike and Tony are ... See full summary »
When a body is found in the New Orleans docks, it's pretty obvious that he died from gun shot wounds. The police surgeon notices that the man is also displaying other symptoms and Lt. Commander Clint Reed, a doctor with the U.S. Public Health Service, diagnoses a highly contagious disease, pneumonic plague. He tries to convince local officials to find everyone who may have been in contact with the dead man. The Mayor supports his efforts but many, including the police, are doubtful. Reed wants to avoid publicity so as not to panic the public. They have little information to go on - they don't know the dead man's identity - and Reed estimates they have 48 hours before disease begins to spread. With police Capt. Tom Warren going through the motions, Reed sets out to find the killers.Written by
Film debut of Emile Meyer. Whilst scouting locations in New Orleans, director Elia Kazan saw Meyer working on the street with a crew of laborers. He was struck by the brawny Meyer's rugged appearance and hired him for a role in the film. See more »
As Dr. Reed walks toward the house to thin the paint, and is informed he is wanted on the phone, he removes his gloves and tosses them to the ground. In the next cut, viewed from the house, he again removes his gloves, and tosses them on the ground. See more »
A doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with pneumonic plague.
An effective and class, little thriller directed by Elia Kazan that blends documentary realism with a race against time pulpy heartbeat. Set and filmed in and around New Orleans, Panic In The Streets is taken from the story Quarantine, Some Like 'em Cold by Edna and Edward Anhalt who won an Oscar for original story. It also boasts a fine ensemble cast that deliver top rate performances for their director. In turn, Richard Widmark (bringing the method a year before Marlon did for Kazan in A Streetcar Named Desire), Paul Douglas, Jack Palance (as Walter Jack Palance) & the wonderfully named Zero Mostel, all get sweatily moody as the pursuers chase the pursued to halt the onset of a potential Black Death epidemic.
Where the film scores its main suspense points is with Kazan's astute ability to cut back and forth between the protagonists without altering the flow and mood of the piece. From Widmark's Public Health doctor, with hypodermic needle in hand, running around trying to locate the bad guys so he can do good - to the bad guys themselves who are bemused as to why there is such a wide scale hunt for them. The tension is stacked up to fever breaking point, to which thankfully the final thirty minutes becomes a cracking piece of cinema, with Palance excelling as a nasty villain that ironically puts one in mind of Widmark's own Tommy Udo from Kiss Of Death three years previously.
It's an imaginative and intelligently written story, one that cunningly links rats and criminals to being carriers of disease. A blight on society as it were. It's noirish elements, such as paranoia, blend nicely with its basic procedural thriller being. While some memorable scenes are suitably cloaked by the stifling atmosphere that Kazan has created. Although some of the early character psychologizing threatens to steer the film down some over talky based alleyways, this definitely is a film worth staying with to the end. Not essential film-noir in my personal book, and maybe not even essential Kazan? but certainly a highly recommended film that begs to be discovered by a new generation of film lovers and reappraised by the old guard who may have missed it back in the day. 7.5/10
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