PANIC IN THE STREETS

(1950)
With Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes, Jack Palance, Zero Mostel, Dan Riss, Guy Thomajan
Directed by Elia Kazan
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

    The bullet-riddled body of an unidentified man is discovered along the shores of New Orleans, but a more disturbing discovery is made when the city coroner determines the man was a plague carrier.  City medical officer Richard Widmark and police chief Paul Douglas have less than 48 hours to track down the man's killers, plague carriers themselves, before a deadly epidemic spreads throughout the city, and subsequently throughout the country.  And they haven't the slightest clue where to begin.  A gripping and fast-paced little noir thriller filmed on location in New Orleans by director Elia Kazan, PANIC IN THE STREETS was noted for its documentary-like verisimilitude, achieved in part by casting local nonprofessionals in several supporting roles.  Widmark and Douglas are outstanding as a cantankerous pair of heroes who gradually come to respect one another, but the most memorable performances are delivered by screen newcomers Jack Palance and Zero Mostel as the plague-carrying killers. 4½ - JL

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