Vintage Nawlins' 1950, a city that's seen it's share of tragedy, and there's a poker game goin' on, nothing fancy, five card draw, and the events that are about to unfold are going to cause "Panic In The Streets"!!!!
One of the players, Lewis Charles as Kochak the guy who just happens to be winning, doesn't feel very good! It seems he's fresh in the country illegally, and he just also happens to have The Plague Plague Plague plague, and with what's happening around the world today, this story is still topical 61 years later!
Walter Jack Palance is Blackie, and this would be his first film appearance ever. Now does that face really look like a Walter? Apparently not, because he dropped it soon after that! The funny thing is that Jack was actually born Volodymyr Palanyuk! Now there's a handle that rolls right off the tongue!
Blackie's boys, Poldi and Raymond are sent out to get the money back! I never want to be out walking around the streets at night, and have somebody coming towards me with this posture! Poldi is a creepy little dude!
You don't quit a game when you're ahead, not when you're playing with Blackie you don't, that's the number one rule, and Blackie is not a man to trifle with!
Now it's time to merge a body of water and a dead body, a body infested with the plague! Blackie's boys are Zero Mostel as Raymond Fitch, and Guy Thomajan is Poldi! The entire cast of this film is remarkable!
Cut to this scene of domestic tranquility, a man and his son refinishing a chest of drawers! Richard Widmark is Lieutenant Commander Clinton Reed M.D. and his son is America's favorite son of the 50's, Tommy Rettig in what was also his first movie. Tommy was Jeff in 115 episodes of the original "Lassie" TV show. In the 60's Tommy couldn't hardly get any adult roles, and became a big proponent for the legalization of ganja. He got into a lot of trouble for growing pot and his life was never the same!! Sadly, Tommy Rettig passed away in 1996 at the age of 54!
Cinematographer Joseph MacDonald liked having a shot where two people would be framing another person in the background between them, and uses it frequently! With an eye like that, it's no wonder he was nominated for 3 Oscars!
Commander Lewis's foil is the powerful Paul Douglas as Police Captain Tom Warren! As you can see, it's all black and white, the feds and the local police have two different ways of working! They've got a situation, and they only have 48 hours to find out who the plague infested man is, and where did he come from? The race is on!!
The main score for "Panic In The Streets" was composed by Alfred Newman. Other notable music is "I Know Why (and So Do You)" composed by Harry Warren, "The Johnson Rag" written by Gus Hall and Henry Kleinkauf, and "Fine and Mellow," written by the incredible Billie Holiday, and it all blends in together to make a mighty, mighty fine and authentic stew!
Quite a different picture from your local "Starbucks" today, and we think we've got it bad!
It was no easy task to track down the vessel that the plague came in on, and nobody, including The Captain wanted to cooperate!
They find out he was a Greek immigrant, and track him down to the very popular Athena Cafe, where "The Best in the South" Royal Beer is on tap!
The joint is jumpin'!!!
After they leave, it just so happens Blackie shows up, and the little guy fills him in!!
Poldi ain't feelin' so good, and Blackie thinks he's holding out on him! The guy in the background that Blackie is about ready to tell to get lost is Poldi's little brother Vinnie who was played by Tommy Cook! Tommy went on to be in some classic flicks like "Missile To The Moon" and "The Thing With Two Heads"
Poldi is feeling even worse, but when Blackie's girlfriend shows up, he gets distracted and it gives Poldi a chance to run away, the dirty little rat!!!
Classic shoebox cop car. They're great and they say "NO Police" on the side!
Time for Captain Warren to get some solid answers without any more pussyfooting around!
I almost forgot about Commander Reed's wife, Barbara Bel Geddes as Nancy Reed! Barbara has a most interesting look for 50's Hollywood, if you ask me, and would end her awesome career as Ellie Ewing on the "Dallas" TV Show in 295 episodes from 1978 to 1990! Wow!!
There's that shot again, this time during the standoff between the Mayor and the Chief Medical Officer! Reality check time!
Blackie catches back up with Poldi and tries to extract some more information out of him, the way only a good friend knows how!
Then all Hell breaks loose, and the big chase scene starts! At this point it reminded me of a "Little Rascals" episode, where they utilize a big slide, and have to go under the pier!
As many times as I have gone to the Internet Archive to look for films, I never found this one there until I started doing some fact checking on IMDB, and boy, what a surprise, so anybody can go watch or download it for free. Maybe there still is a little hope for civilization! Don't forget to donate anything you can spare to Japan!