A woman secretly suffering from kleptomania is hypnotized in an effort to cure her condition. Soon afterwards, she is found at the scene of a murder with no memory of how she got there and seemingly no way to prove her innocence.
After two gang-related killings in "Center City," a suspect (who was framed) is arrested, released on bail...and murdered. Inspector Briggs of the FBI recruits a young agent, Gene Cordell, to go undercover in the shadowy Skid Row area (alias George Manly) as a potential victim of the same racket. Soon, Gene meets Alec Stiles, neurotic mastermind who's "building an organization along scientific lines." Stiles recruits Cordell, whose job becomes a lot more dangerous... Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When the load of newspapers is thrown on the rain-soaked street from the moving vehicle it rolls over ensuring that both sides have been exposed to the street's wetness. However the resultant cut-in shows the news headlines clean and dry with no hint of dirt or moisture. See more »
THE STREET WITH NO NAME (William Keighley, 1948) ***
This underrated noir, efficiently handled in all departments, has rather unjustly been overshadowed by its higher-profile color remake – Samuel Fuller’s HOUSE OF BAMBOO (1955), which I’d watched before but will re-acquaint myself with now thanks to the original (scheduled as part of my ongoing Richard Widmark tribute).
The film (whose title is allegorical) deals with F.B.I. rookie Mark Stevens infiltrating a criminal gang headed by Widmark; the Bureau gave Fox (who produced it) their full co-operation: the studio, in fact, had already made THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET (1945) in a similar vein and, though THE STREET WITH NO NAME is marked by that earlier title’s innovative semi-documentary style, it actually ties in more with the gangster pictures of the 1930s. Incidentally, director Keighley had been responsible for a number of these over at Warners – including BULLETS OR BALLOTS (1936), which I may well check out presently on the strength of my positive response to this one!; Besides, the hero’s undercover activity and the suspense inherent in such a situation anticipates Raoul Walsh’s WHITE HEAT (1949) – while its scenario, also involving the concurrent presence of a ‘rat’ operating within the Bureau itself, would be replicated nearly 60 years later in Martin Scorsese’s THE DEPARTED (2006)!
At first glance, Stevens looks like an unlikely tough guy but, in retrospect, he acquits himself surprisingly well; Widmark – in his second film – has graduated from sadistic thug to unscrupulous gang boss (memorably introduced, with his face half-hidden behind a handkerchief during a night-club ‘job’, spitting a line at the orchestra conductor: “O.K., Stokowski…dry up!”). The film is also blessed with a terrific supporting cast (including Lloyd Nolan, John McIntire and Ed Begley – all of whom play F.B.I. operatives – Donald Buka being especially noteworthy among the criminals as Widmark’s taciturn but ruthless right-hand man, and only one prominent female figure in Barbara Lawrence as the typically-abused gangster’s moll).
As expected, Joe MacDonald’s shadowy lighting emerges to be an indispensable asset here – rendered even more effective (and realistic) by locations carefully-chosen to fit the desired mood of every sequence. A remarkable outburst of violence at the film’s climax (set inside a warehouse) is equivalent, then, to the icing on the cake.
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