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Panic in the Streets (1950)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 15 September 1950 (USA)
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A doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with pneumonic plague.

Director:

Elia Kazan

Writers:

Richard Murphy (screenplay), Daniel Fuchs (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Richard Widmark ... Lt. Cmdr. Clinton 'Clint' Reed M.D.
Paul Douglas ... Capt. Tom Warren
Barbara Bel Geddes ... Nancy Reed
Jack Palance ... Blackie (as Walter Jack Palance)
Zero Mostel ... Raymond Fitch
Dan Riss ... Neff - Newspaper Reporter
Tommy Cook ... Vince Poldi - Younger Brother
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Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

WATCH OUT!! soon you will see the screen EXCITEMENT of the year! See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Mandarin | Greek

Release Date:

15 September 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Outbreak See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,400,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Lt. Cmdr. Clinton 'Clint' Reed M.D.: You know, my mother always told me if you looked deep enough in anybody... you'd always find some good, but I don't know.
Capt. Tom Warren: With apologies to your mother, that's the second mistake she made.
See more »

Connections

Featured in A Letter to Elia (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Piccinina
(uncredited)
Music by Eldo Di Lazzaro and Mario Panzeri
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sweaty clock ticker from Elia Kazan.
1 March 2010 | by SpikeopathSee all my reviews

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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