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Panic in the Streets (1950)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 15 September 1950 (USA)
A doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with pneumonic plague.

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(screenplay), (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Blackie (as Walter Jack Palance)
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Vince Poldi - Younger Brother
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Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

THE SCREEN'S GREATEST EXCITEMENT OF THE YEAR! (original print ad - all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Language:

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Release Date:

15 September 1950 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Outbreak  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,400,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Richard Widmark, Jack Palance did his own stunt of climbing the boat rope after two stuntmen failed. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Lt. Cmdr. Clinton 'Clint' Reed M.D.: As far as I know, nobody's yet figured out a way to get money back from the U.S. Government... quickly, that is.
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Connections

Featured in A Letter to Elia (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Fine and Mellow
(uncredited)
Written by Billie Holiday
Played (with vocal by a male singer) as background during a nightlife scene
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User Reviews

 
Sweaty clock ticker from Elia Kazan.
1 March 2010 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

A doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with pneumonic plague.

An effective, and classy, little thriller directed by Elia Kazan that blends documentary realism with a race against time pulpy heartbeat. Set and filmed in and around New Orleans, Panic In The Streets is taken from the story Quarantine, Some Like 'em Cold by Edna and Edward Anhalt who won an Oscar for original story. It also boasts a fine ensemble cast that deliver top rate performances for their director. In turn, Richard Widmark {bringing the method a year before Marlon did for Kazan in A Streetcar Named Desire}, Paul Douglas, Jack Palance (as Walter Jack Palance) & the wonderfully named Zero Mostel, all get sweatily moody as the pursuers chase the pursued to halt the onset of a potential Black Death epidemic.

Where the film scores its main suspense points is with Kazan's astute ability to cut back and forth between the protagonists without altering the flow and mood of the piece. From Widmark's Public Health doctor, with hypodermic needle in hand, running around trying to locate the bad guys so he can do good; to the bad guys themselves who are bemused as to why there is such a wide scale hunt for them; the tension is stacked up to fever breaking point. To which thankfully the final thirty minutes becomes a cracking piece of cinema. With Palance excelling as a nasty villain that ironically puts one in mind of Widmark's own Tommy Udo from Kiss Of Death three years prior.

It's an imaginative and intelligently written story, one that cunningly links rats and criminals to being carriers of disease. A blight on society as it were. It's noirish elements, such as paranoia, blend nicely with its basic procedural thriller being. While some memorable scenes are suitably cloaked by the stifling atmosphere that Kazan has created. Although some of the early character psychologizing threatens to steer the film down some over talky based alleyway, this definitely is a film worth staying with to the end. Not essential film-noir, and maybe not even essential Kazan, but certainly a highly recommended film that begs to be discovered by a new generation of film lovers and reappraised by the old guard who may have missed it back in the day. 7.5/10


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