In one of his most chilling performances, Richard Widmark stars as Stiles, an up and coming crime boss trying to stake his claim in the criminal underworld. The FBI files are filled with many lurid crime stories. One case ... more »in particular baffles FBI Inspector Briggs (Loyed Nolan). In involves the murders of a house wife and a bank guard. Both were killed by the same gun, yet there isn't any connection between the victims. Determined to get to the bottom of the crime, Briggs sends his best agent undercover to penetrate the inner circle of the notorious Stiles gang. Everything goes according to plan, until an informant inside the police department tips off Stiles. Now the enraged crime boss targets the agent for murder.« less
"There have been many films that have attempted to dramatize gangsterism and its existence within urban America. Works such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, Once Upon A Time In America, and Angels With Dirty Faces have been critically acclaimed for achieving realistic glimpses inside the realm of crime. The Street With No Name should rightfully take its place alongside the aforementioned masterpieces as a pivotal film that absorbs the viewer into a criminal landscape etched with- corruption, unconscious alienation, and violent power. Aptly titled, no actual street or city is identified by name, since the gritty texture of this film implies that any of the growing metropolises that dot America can claim "Center City" as its home. Pool halls, seedy motels, late night arcades, and dank diners blend into an atmospheric montage of criminal haze. Interior shots are brilliantly framed in noir style lighting. Rooms themselves seem sinister as tables, chairs, windows, and walls, become parts to an ignominious whole. Director William Keighley taking a cue from the documentary style success of House on 92nd Street (best screenplay 1945) incorporates a similar narrative touch. As in House on 92nd Street, J Edgar Hoover allows Keighley full access to film scenes at FBI headquarters and at the Bureau's training center. The scenes are authenticated by actual FBI personnel operating the latest equipment used in criminal investigations. The dialogue and acting is sharp. Martin Scorcese would be impressed with the seemingly off the cuff lines and mannerisms that the racketeering characters demonstrate. Mark Stevens is believable as the undercover FBI agent who penetrates the inner circle of an organized street gang. Lloyd Nolan is again cast as the straitlaced FBI inspector who symbolizes Hoover's insistence on vigilance and patriotism. But it is Richard Widmark who steals this picture with a riveting performance as a paranoid gang leader with a vindictive mean streak. Critics claim that Widmark's screen debut as gangster Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death (1947) was his most memorable performance but I disagree. Even though Widmark was nominated for an Oscar in Kiss of Death, his performance is marked by scripted toughness. When watching Widmark's Udo character today he seems unconvincing and severly concocted. In The Street With No Name, Widmark's character Alec Stiles is notoriously genuine. Stile's dress, talk, mannerisms, and insecurities are subtle and readily acceptable as part of a gangster's profile. Cagney, Raft, and Bogart may have garnered the eternal gangster spotlight, but Widmark's hood Alec Stiles stands as the most memorable."
David Baldwin | Philadelphia,PA USA | 09/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This flick clicks on all cylinders. This is quintessential film noir. Director William Keighley employs two styles here. For the FBI procedural aspects of the film he employs a "Dragnet" style narrative. When dealing with the underworld element the ominous light and shadow noir approach is used. The marriage of these styles is utilized perfectly here. Richard Widmark adds another memorable character to his rogues gallery as crime boss Alex Stiles. Veterans Lloyd Nolan and John McIntire give good performances as an FBI field director and FBI undercover operative, respectively. Film was remade later as "House of Bamboo". The interesting thing about that film is all the basic elements from this film are present yet it pales in virtually every aspect to the original. "House of Bamboo" fails because it is a film almost bereft of style but see it if you must for comparison purposes."
"There's just one idea man in this outfit...me."
cookieman108 | Inside the jar... | 05/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Apparently after WWII, there was an alarming increase in `gangsterism', a term which I wasn't familiar with until I watched the film The Street with No Name (1948). Surprisingly (to me, at least) it is an actual word (according to my online dictionary), so if you're playing Scrabble and you have the right combination of letters, throw it down and earn yourself some beaucoup points...written by Harry Kleiner (Fallen Angel, The Violent Men, House of Bamboo) and directed by William Keighley ('G' Men, Bullets or Ballots, The Adventures of Robin Hood), the film stars Mark Stevens (Objective, Burma!, The Dark Corner) and Richard Widmark (Panic in the Streets, Pickup on South Street) in his second feature, following his memorable performance as the tough mug Tommy Udo in the Victor Mature vehicle Kiss of Death (1947). Also appearing is Lloyd Nolan (The House on 92nd Street), Barbara Lawrence (Oklahoma!), Ed Begley (12 Angry Men), John McIntire (Call Northside 777, Turner & Hooch), and Donald Buka (Stolen Identity), as the tough guy character Shivvy (in case it wasn't apparent by his name, he's handy with a blade, or `shiv' in gangsterism lingo). An interesting fact, `Shivvy' was also an original name for one of the original seven dwarfs, but was changed as test audiences didn't respond well to a knife wielding dwarf...go figure.
As the film begins we learn through a message hot off the wire from J. Edgar Hoover himself that gangsterism is running rampant, and if things stay the course, three out of every four Americans will, at some point, become victims of organized criminal activity. That's hardly news to the residents of Center City, as gangs have been pulling of some bold capers, resulting in a few deaths. In an effort to stem the tide of the unlawful, Special Agent Eugene Cordell is recruited straight from the academy, and given the phony baloney identity of George Manly, certainly a moniker one could hang one's hat on, with the intent he infiltrate the local underworld, gather information, and bring about some arrests...seems George has an extensive criminal record, one with surprisingly little or no convictions, and therefore is a likely candidate to join one of the larger gangs in the area (also the one responsible for a lot of the recent villainous activity), an organization lead by Alec Stiles (Widmark), a savvy, intelligent gangster with some influential friends. George, now a member of the gang, begins passing along information about the gang's plans, but Stiles and his lackeys elude capture due to a tip off from an informant within the local police department, one which Stiles uses to help ferret out the mole he believes planted within his own group. Seems Georgie's days are numbered as Stiles has come up with a unique plan to get rid of him, without getting any blood on his hands...
There are a lot of things to like about this film including the solid (and slightly predictable) writing, the extremely capable directing, but I particularly liked the performances. I thought Mark Stevens did very well in the lead, as he seemed a very personable type and was able to pull off the good guy pretending to be a bad guy very well, but I think he got upstaged by Richard Widmark, who would eventually show he could play both the antagonist and protagonist equally as well (if you get a chance, check out 1950's Panic in the Streets, where Widmark plays the hero part). I should mention Widmark has always been one of my favorite actors, so perhaps I'm a little biased, and generally the bad guys are more interesting than the good guys in features like these, but I think Widmark brought a lot to the part. The writing fleshed his character out pretty well, which was complimented by Widmark turning Stiles from just your run of the mill alpha thug into an intelligent, albeit sadistic, character working any number of angles in order to solidify his stranglehold on the city and stay one step ahead of law enforcement (at least the law enforcement not corrupted by the criminal element). Widmark did seemed slightly constrained here, so perhaps he was still coming into his own given this was only his second film. I particularly liked his character's screening process which he used to draw in potential recruits to his gang. I also liked how he utilized techniques normally used by law enforcement to his own ends, especially in terms of finding out who within his group was the rat. The story, which was apparently developed with the aid of the FBI (as stated in some upfront text), moves along well, and has a number of scenes relating investigational techniques used at the time, many of which are still employed today (fingerprint analysis, matching the grooves on spent bullets, etc.). This kind of information is old news to us nowadays given the popularity of the investigational police dramas scattered across the television, but I'm sure at the time the movie was released, the general public probably had little idea how law enforcement collected evidence and used it against those who would commit crime. One interesting fact I did learn while watching this feature was that back in the day, police procedure seemed to be `shoot first, shoot again, and then ask questions'. The funniest part for me involved John McIntire's character, who was the direct contact man for Cordell while he was undercover. He was holed up in a squalid, fleabag flophouse across from Cordell's squalid, fleabag flophouse, and he would use an odd and cumbersome looking shortwave getup to communicate with headquarters, one that featured some large headphones with antenna protruding from the top. All in all I thought this a solid feature with definite `noir-ish' qualities, one worth checking out if you enjoy black and white crime dramas.
The picture, presented in fullscreen aspect ratio (1.33:1), looks good, but it does have some imperfections, mainly the occasional vertical line running down the screen. It's not as bad as I've seen in other releases, but it is noticeable from time to time. The audio, available in both Dolby Digital stereo and mono, comes through clean. Special features included are an interesting and engaging commentary track featuring film historians James Ursini and Alain Silver, a theatrical trailer for the film, and trailers for other 20th Century Fox noir DVD releases like Call Northside 777 (1948), House of Bamboo (1955), Laura (1944), and Panic in the Streets (1950).
Good F.B.I. Pic
Kardius | USA | 03/24/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Post-war gangsterism provides a much better storyline than WWII spies in Fox's follow-up to "The House on 92nd Street." Thankfully, the reverential documentary-style sections on FBI proceedings were minimized in this movie in favor of the story concerning an FBI agent (Mark Stevens) who infiltrates a criminal gang in "Central City." Therefore, in this film you get more of the great black and white cinematography that visually characterizes the film noir genre.
Also, the cast is much better. Best of all is Richard Widmark. He provides another great portrayal of a villain right after becoming known in "Kiss of Death." Mark Stevens looks more convincing as a criminal than an agent, but he's much better here than in "The Dark Corner." (Like "Kiss of Death," the film is also on the Fox film noir DVD collection, and both are much better films than "The Street With No Name"). And, although she's only on screen for a handful of minutes, Barbara Lawrence (the only woman in the cast) makes quite an impression as Widmark's wife. She's quite a dame.
In sum, "The Street With No Name" is not the best of noirs, but the semi-documentary film is still fascinating to watch, and a significant improvement over Fox's first F.B.I. pic, "The House on 92nd Street," also available on DVD."
Cory D. Slipman | Rockville Centre, N.Y. | 07/22/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Richard Widmark plays cerebral and hypochondriacal Alec Stiles, boss of a crime syndicate in metropolitan Centre City. Stiles, an up and comer in the world of crime has orchestrated two capers that have resulted in two deaths using the same pistol as the murder weapon.
FBI investigator George Briggs played by a no nonsense Lloyd Nolan, recruits agent Gene Cordell played by Mark Stevens to infiltrate Widmark's gang. Stevens eventually gains Widmark's confidence and becomes a member of the gang. He soon learns that Widmark has a stoolie in the local police who is able to access FBI reports making life dangerous for Stevens.
Director William Keighley in dramatic documentary style proceeds to chronicle the effort put forth by the FBI and local law enforcement to prosecute Widmark and his ruthless gang. Of course we learn that crime doesn't pay"