When a body is found in the New Orleans docks, it's pretty obvious that he died from gun shot wounds. The police surgeon notices that the man is also displaying other symptoms and Lt. Commander Clint Reed, a doctor with the U.S. Public Health Service, diagnoses a highly contagious disease, pneumonic plague. He tries to convince local officials to find everyone who may have been in contact with the dead man. The Mayor supports his efforts but many, including the police, are doubtful. Reed wants to avoid publicity so as not to panic the public. They have little information to go on - they don't know the dead man's identity - and Reed estimates they have 48 hours before disease begins to spread. With police Capt. Tom Warren going through the motions, Reed sets out to find the killers. Written by
In the scene where Palance hits Widmark on the head with a gun, the actors rehearsed it with a rubber gun, but when the cameras rolled, Palance substituted a real gun. Widmark, who wasn't expecting it was out for twenty minutes. According to Widmark "Why did he switch? Who knows?" In a 1986 interview Widmark also recalled how Palance got into the mood of his character by beating on flunky Zero Mostel off-screen. A black and blue Mostel had to go to the hospital after his first week on the movie. "They had to soak him in epsom pads." See more »
In an early scene when Dr. Reed (Richard Widmark) is shown painting with his son, he flicks excess paint off the brush, and then sits on the same spot where the paint would have landed, but when he gets up there's no paint on his pants. See more »
If there's a plague here, you're the most important guy in this town.
See more »
Simple but Still Effective and With a Great Villain
In New Orleans, an illegal immigrant feels sick and leaves a poker game while winning the smalltime criminal Blackie (Walter Jack Palance). He is chased by Blackie and his men Raymond Fitch (Zero Mostel) and Poldi (Guy Thomajan), killed by Blackie and his body is dumped in the sea. During the autopsy, the family man Lieutenant Commander Dr. Clinton Reed (Richard Widmark) of the U.S. Public Health Service finds that the dead man had pneumonic plague caused by rats and he needs to find who had any type of contact with the man within forty-eight hours to avoid an epidemic. The City Mayor assigns the skeptical Captain Tom Warren (Paul Douglas) to help Dr. Clint to find the killers that are infected with the plague and inoculate them.
"Panic in the Streets" discloses a simple story, but it is still effective and with a great villain. The engaging plot has not become dated after fifty-seven years. Jack Palance performs a despicable scum in his debut, and the camera work while he tries to escape with Zero Mostel is still very impressive. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "Pânico nas Ruas" ("Panic in the Streets")
Note: On 29 May 2016, I saw this film again.
14 of 14 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?