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 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.
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When plague breaks out in New Orleans, it's Richard Widmark to the rescue in "Panic in the Streets," one of the lesser-celebrated films of the great Elia Kazan. Kazan keeps the pace brisk, and there are lots of marvelous touches - the scenes between Widmark and Barbara Bel Geddes, who plays his wife and the scene in the police station show family life and work life and the relationships of average citizens, which is in sharp contrast to the lives and relationships of the low-lifes, portrayed by a menacing Jack Palance, his weak yes man, Zero Mostel, Tommy Cook, and Louis Charles. There are also some interesting visuals
Palance has a couple of scenes with actors who seem to come up to his
knees in height.
The acting is marvelous and the dialogue sharp if the story isn't quite up to the direction and performances. It has a few questionable aspects which will be spotted by the viewer quite easily. That aside, it's well worth viewing. Kazan was a masterful director.
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