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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Copyright © 2010 John V. Brennan, John Larrabee