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
Film debut of Emile Meyer. While scouting locations in New Orleans, director Elia Kazan saw Meyer working on the street with a crew of laborers. He was struck by the brawny Meyer's rugged appearance and hired him for a role in the film. See more »
As Dr. Reed walks toward the house to thin the paint, and is informed he is wanted on the phone, he removes his gloves and tosses them to the ground. In the next cut, viewed from the house, he again removes his gloves, and tosses them on the ground. 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")
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