Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Panic in the Streets |
Fox Film Noir
Actors: Barbara Bel Geddes, Beverly C. Brown, Tommy Cook, Paul Douglas, H. Waller Fowler Jr.
Director: Elia Kazan
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
One night in the New Orleans slums, vicious hoodlum Blackie and his friends kill an illegal immigrant who won too much in a card game. When Dr. Clint Reed confirms the dead man had pneumonic plague he must find and inocula... more »
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An unusual but very gripping film noir!
Dave | Tennessee United States | 04/05/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This excellent documentary-style noir was superbly directed by the great Elia Kazan, who made great use of actual locations in New Orleans to create a very realistic and believable atmosphere. The cast is nearly flawless, with great performances from Richard Widmark (in a rare good guy role!), Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes, Zero Mostel, and Jack Palance, in his stunning film debut.
Richard Widmark plays Dr. Clint Reed, a public health doctor who must work with New Orleans Police Captain Tom Warren (played by Paul Douglas) to find the killer(s) of a man who was already dying of the deadly bubonic plague (he was carrying a virulent strain of it). They have only 48 hours to find the killers before they can escape the port area and unknowingly spread the plague throughout the country.
Jack Palance plays the ruthless killer who's on the run from the police, not knowing that he's already infected with the plague. Barbara Bel Geddes plays the patient wife of Dr. Reed (Widmark), and Zero Mostel plays the cowardly sidekick of Jack Palance. The memorable music by Alfred Newman only adds to the mood of this entertaining film noir. The dvd has a virtually perfect picture and sound quality, and includes several film noir trailers and an outstanding commentary by film noir authors/historians Alain Silver and James Ursini. Highly recommended for any film noir buff!"
"Anything I don't like's a smart-cracking dame."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 08/07/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Love him or hate him (many in Hollywood still do, hate him, that is, based on his cooperating with the HUAC - House Un-American Activities Committee back in the early 50s), Elia Kazan knew how to make damn good films, including such features as A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), On the Waterfront (1954), which won eight Academy Awards, including one for best direction and one for best actor in leading role for Marlon Brando, Splendor in the Grass (1961), and this earlier effort titled Panic in the Streets (1950), which also won an Academy Award in the best writing motion picture story category for Edward and Edna Anhalt. Starring in the film is Richard Widmark, whom I last saw in the one of the unfunniest comedies I've ever seen in National Lampoon's Movie Madness (1983), so I really relished this opportunity to put that experience in the past as I knew Widmark capable of much better things having seen Pickup on South Street (1953), which I think is one of his best films (I have yet to see them all). Also appearing is Paul Douglas (It Happens Every Spring), Barbara Bel Geddes (Vertigo), Zero Mostel (The Producers), Guy Thomajan (The Pink Panther), and Jack `Believe it...or not!' Palance (The Professionals, Torture Garden) in what appears to be his first silver screen role, credited as Walter Jack Palance.
The story, which takes place in New Orleans, or New Awlins', if you prefer, begins as a seedy poker game breaks up early due to one of the players feeling all sick like...the others are annoyed, especially Blackie (Palance), as the man was winning, and they believe he's using the old `I'm leaving early because I'm sick, not because I'm winning' ploy to get out of giving them the chance to win back their money, so they follow him because the aforementioned Blackie is an especially poor loser and wants his dough back...to which they end up killing the man and dumping his corpse in the harbor...only thing is, the now deceased was truly sick, suffering a pulmonary form of the bubonic plague aka the black death (you know, that bug that spread across Europe and killed millions?), diagnosed by Lieutenant Commander Dr. Clinton Reed (Widmark) of the U.S. Public Health Service. He tries to impress upon the local authorities the importance of finding everyone who had contact with the relatively unknown man due to the extremely communicable nature of the pathogen, but police captain Tom Warren (Douglas), whose been assigned to work with Reed, has little faith in finding the killer as there are virtually no clues (the dead man has no ID as he recently arrived by steam shipper and entered the country illegally). Now Reed and Warren have 48 hours to crack the case, lest the disease take a foothold and spread across the country.
My favorite exchange in the film was between the characters of Reed and Warren, the two civil servants stuck with each other, Reed feeling Warren isn't taking things serious enough, while Warren thinks Reed is over-reacting.
Reed: You know, my mother always told me if you looked deep enough in anybody, you always find some good, but I don't know.
Warren: With apologies to your mother, that's the second mistake she made.
This is a really strong film, although I'm not sure if it did too well the time it was released. The most striking aspect about the movie, in my opinion, is the dark haired Palance who played the role of the lead antagonist Blackie. He's a truly scary individual, not only because of his lean, almost gaunt, towering physique, but also because quiet nature of his character, sort of a calm exterior barely containing seething cauldron of violence ready to spill over on anyone who goes against him (check out the scene where Blackie dumps the sickly Poldi, mattress and all, over the stairwell)...one really interesting thing, and something I think often tends to screw films up in less capable hands, is the inclusion of so many different facets of a story...the disease, the killer(s), the relationship between Reed and Warren, the relationship between Reed and his wife (played by Bel Geddes), the withholding of information from the public, risking the possibility of full blown outbreak vs. the fear of causing a panic that drives the killer, who may be infected, out of town, etc. Yes, there was a whole lot going on (perhaps too much), but it handled well, and with little or no confusion. One aspect that I really liked was the perception by Blackie that police were putting so much heat out there because he thought they thought the man had smuggled something valuable into the country, something he would be interested in...is it me, or did Zero Mostel play the role of flounder lap dog to Blackie just a little too well? I mean yeah, I wouldn't want to get on Blackie's bad side being the man's a gorilla that trusts no one, but Mostel seemed a little too comfortable in the role. All in all I enjoyed this film, and I thought it provided a somewhat different and unique spin on a well-established genre...plus I've always been a fan of Richard Widmark and would strongly recommend two of his other films from the same period in Night and the City (1950), directed by Jules Dassin, and the one I mentioned earlier Pickup on South Street (1953), directed by Samuel Fuller.
The picture on this DVD is presented in original full frame aspect ratio (1.33:1), and looks very sharp and clean. The audio is available in both Dolby Digital stereo and mono, and comes across very well. In terms of special features, there's a commentary track by authors and film historians James Ursini and Alain Silver, along with a theatrical trailer and liner notes for the film. There are also trailer for other 20th Century Fox noir films like Call Northside 777 (1948), House of Bamboo (1955), Laura (1944), and The Street with No Name (1948).
If I learned anything from this film its not to play cards with Jack Palance...he doesn't like to lose...
Classic film noir comes to DVD with great commentary
Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 03/03/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Dr. Clint Reed (Richard Widmark) and New Orleans Police Captain Tom Warren (Paul Douglas) frantically search for a pair of criminals involved with the murder of a card player who may have been infected with plague by the victim. Reed and Warren have 48 hours to find the criminals before they become infectious and spread plague through the population like a wildfire. Although it doesn't compare to the gorefests that pass for suspense thrillers today. Kazan's eighth film as a director is filled with long takes influenced by Welles (although far more naturalistic looking without the unusual angles that Gregg Toland used on Welles' masterpiece "Citizen Kane") creating as much suspense by letting the action play out as the quick cutting style of Hitchcock and other directors working at the time. Featuring the lovely and underrated Barbara Bel Geddes as Widmark's wife, "Panic in the Streets" continues to astound with its suspenseful direction and brutal violence. A young Jack Palance steals the film with his role as "Blackie" one of the infected criminals and Zero Mostel appears as the other criminal a year or two before Kazan ratted him out to the House of Un-American Acitivies. A believable, powerful drama that still resonates today because of Kazan's on location shooting and powerful down-to-earth performances. Writer Murphy and Kazan would frequently allow the actors to improvise some of their scenes changing dialogue around to bring a sense of spontaneity. Kazan's film, unlike many of the time, shows interdepartmental conflicts slowing down the hunt for the infected men.
"Panic in the Streets" looks good in its first presentation on DVD. There's a predictable amount of grain and dirt but, on the whole, there's nothing to panic about. The sound is presented in the original mono mix and an augmented artifical stereo mix as well. The former sounds the best of the two. The sound occasionally comes across as harsh but there's little hiss or other analog problems. Image qualtiy is exceptionally good for the movie and this is a must have for fans of film noir featuring one of Palance's best early performances.
Unfortunately, we don't have any featurettes or documentaries on any of the stars from the film. I seem to recall A&E Biographies on both Jack Palance and Richard Widmark and am a bit puzzled as to why they weren't licensed for this project. Perhaps it's because this is a lower profile classic film that doesn't have the built in audience of, say, "Laura" or "Letter to Three Wives". We do get the theatrical trailer for the film as well as four trailers for four other Fox Noir Classics available on DVD.
A great, involving commentary track authors and film historians James Ursini and Alain Silver is a highlight of this release. The authors point out Kazan's more straight forward style relying much more on lighting the actors to maintain the mood of the film. There's also scenes here that are echoed in later Kazan films such as "On the Waterfront" and "A Streetcar Named Desire".
A sharp, vivid looking transfer for this classic noir is a highlight of "Panic in the Streets". It's a pity that there's no background on the production of the movie provided in the form of a featurette or documentary. As it is, though, we get plenty of information from the two film historians and authors on the commentary tracks and their efforts aren't as dry as some commentators. We also get the original theatrical trailer as well as four original trailers for other Fox Noir DVDs.
One of the best late-40's noir's, bar none
B. Margolis | Minneapolis, MN United States | 03/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I remember catching this movie on TV about 15 years ago, and I immediately fell in love with it, despite the fact that I wasn't particularly crazy about any of the stars, or even 'film noir'.
This amazing gritty documentary-style film just jells perfectly; the setup of the plague, Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas' dilemma, the sleazy New Orleans waterfront dives and characters.
Director Elia Kazan used real locations and often real local people; some of the cops were New Orleans cops, etc.
I'm so glad that this has finally been released....and hopefully most of you will discover one of the most distinctive films of the late 1940's...right up with there with "White Heat".
And....to top it off, the opening theme music by Alfred Newman is, in my mind, one of the amazingly spirited and exiting themes in the history of motion pictures....."