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City of Fear (1959)

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A vicious killer escapes from San Quentin with a cannister of what he believes to be heroin but is actually a radioactive substance that threatens all Los Angeles.


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Complete credited cast:
Vince Ryker
Chief Jensen
John Archer ...
Lt. Mark Richards
Steven Ritch ...
Dr. John Wallace
June Marlowe
Kelly Thordsen ...
Detective Sgt. Hank Johnson
Joseph Mell ...
Eddie Crown
Sherwood Price ...
Pete Hallon
Jeanne (as Cathy Browne)


Vicious drug dealer Vince Ryker escapes from San Quentin with another prisoner after stabbing a guard to death and stealing what he believes to be a cannister filled with experimental heroin from the prison hospital. In reality the container is filled with cobalt-60, a highly radioactive substance which threatens the entire city if it is somehow opened. The ruthless Ryker dumps his dying cellmate and murders a bypassing motorist, burning his body beyond recognition. Assuming a new identity, Ryker heads for Los Angeles to become reunited with his beautiful girlfriend and Crown, a corrupt businessman and front man for Ryker's drug business. Fully aware of the potential dangers of the situation, the authorities are engaged in race against time to recover the cannister and avoid citywide panic. Written by

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A City in terror... Chills for millions... See more »


Crime | Drama | Thriller





Release Date:

February 1959 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I polis tou fovou  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Sound)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Shot in seven days. See more »


When Jeanne, the shoestore clerk goes into the back shed to look for a particular style of shoe for a customer, the customer is left in an empty shop. After a few minutes as Jeanne is trapped, the customer impatiently leaves because there is no one there in the shop to help her. Minutes later when the police arrive, there are clerks and customers in the store whom they immediately evacuate. See more »


Dr. John Wallace: [to Richards concerning the mayor notifying the public of the danger] You could tell them it won't wipe out the whole city. There's not enough of it. It's not a bomb. However... it will contaminate entire farms, milk, butter, eggs, get carried into markets on meat and produce, into theaters and restaurants, get carried around by people on their clothes, on their shoes, on insects and birds... and on children... Then you'll have to describe the symptoms to watch out for - hoarse coughing, heavy ...
See more »


Referenced in Little Nicky (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

the one about something lethal loose in a big city
24 March 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"City of Fear" is a 1959 B movie starring Vince Edwards, Patricia Blair, and Lyle Talbot. Directed by Irving Lerner.

Vince Edwards is the imaginatively named Vince, a prison escapee who believes he's carrying a lot of heroin in a cannister. He plans to sell it and then take off with his girlfriend (Blair). There are a few people in his way, but in his drive from the person, he's able to dispatch them. One of them is his fellow escapee, who becomes very sick and dies.

Vince is actually carrying a lethal cannister of cobalt-6, and it's making him ill, though he persists with his plans. Meanwhile, city officials know what he has and are desperate to find him.

This script has been made I don't know how many times, most notably Panic in the Streets (1950). It's fairly well executed here by Lerner's touches, one where Vince drives away from a gas station and the cannister has rolled out of his car, and another where he's trying to open it, to no avail.

I never considered the brooding Vince Edwards to be much of an actor. He's Ben Casey gone rogue here. Patricia Blair is a knockout. The actress Kathie Browne has a nice cameo - she later appeared in many television shows and was married to Darren McGavin. Finally, one of the great character actors, Lyle Talbot, enjoyed a 56-year career before dying at the age of 94. At the time of his death, he was working on his biography. A shame he didn't finish it - it would have been a great read.

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