15 November 2011

PANIC IN THE STREETS/1950/ELIA KAZAN

PANIC IN THE STREETS

1950/Director: Elia Kazan /Writer: Edward Anhalt 

Cast: Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes, Richard Widmark

While this is not one of Elia Kazan’s best films it is nonetheless a good movie and you can see many of his signature touches in some of the scenes, especially in the indoor shots. The opening shots of the poker game are similar to the ones shot for A Streetcar Named Desire, a remarkably great movie only a couple years down the road. Richard Widmark plays a civil service employed doctor working in New Orleans who comes across a case of Pneumonic Plague brought in by an illegal alien (or if you're from Seattle an "undocumented worker)on one of many cargo ships. The movie becomes a race against time story as both Widmark and murderous hooligan Jack Palance look for the same man for different reasons; Widmark to stop the highly contagious and air born spread form of plague from killing thousands and Palance to get information on an imaginary fortune in something he feels the dying man is hiding. Zero Mostel is good and sweaty a Palance’s partner in crime with a little more of a conscience.

The acting and dialog are pretty good although Widmark is a little over the top at times. He is ready to blow a fuse even when he seems to be getting everything he asks for from the local police chief (Paul Douglas) who puts his career on the line to help. This is okay since this is that Widmark does best. Even better is Palance who hisses and menaces his way from scene to scene and seems lacking in any scruples at all but is street savvy and lethal from the opening scenes where he kills a guy for just wanting to leave a poker game. I love these kinds of movies and that is why I am making a few quick back-to-back posts here at the Cafe of a few I have seen lately.

Found a link where you can see the whole movie or sample it. Just click here. 









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