A psycho-on-the-loose story, about a burned-out newspaper columnist and his circulation-hungry publisher who wants him to turn the killer into Page One news.


(as Alan Smithee)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Vince Perrino
Harrison Crawford III
Lt. John Armstrong
Tony Pate
Harrison Crawford II
Madeleine Crawford
Freeman Stribling
Raymond Zavala
George Weller
Sheldon Lewis
Mark Lonow ...
Henry Zeller
Doris Greasza
Kenny Reiger
Captain Madison


A psycho-on-the-loose story, about a burned-out newspaper columnist and his circulation-hungry publisher who wants him to turn the killer into Page One news. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis







Release Date:

30 March 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Panic on Page One  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (video)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


David Janssen's final film appearance. See more »


A wild shootout in a discotheque caps this thriller, when police lieutenant Jack Armstrong and his partner (Pepe Serna) inadvertently walk in on killer Tony Pate (Mickey Rourke) holed up with an assault rifle planning a massacre later that night (as the real Son of Sam had planned to do). Armstrong carries what appears to be a standard .38 six-shot revolver. But on the soundtrack you can hear eight shots during the first battle in a second-floor bar. Armstrong then reloads (his partner doesn't), runs up the stairs to the top floor and continues shooting it out until blasting Pate on the dance floor. Again you can count eight shots from Armstrong's gun. See more »

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User Reviews

David Janssen gives a superb final screen performance
11 March 2004 | by (Decatur, Ga) – See all my reviews

City in Fear, a 1980 ABC made for television movie,which is loosely based on the Son of Sam murders, is television at it's best. Anyone who gets the chance to view this movie will be in for a treat. The viewer can't lose with veteran actors like Robert Vaughn, Susan Sullivan, Mickey Rourke, Perry King and the forever amazing, but often underrated actor, David Janssen.

David Janssen would have been an Oscar nominee in films had he lived. The character of Vince Perrino played by Janssen is that of a frustrated, cynical alcoholic columnist, who is a man of many excesses one of them being alcohol. Janssen is hired by a wealthy Robert Vaughn, who recalls Janssen as a legendary columnist, who he (Vaugh)hopes can revamp a Los Angeles newspaper that has just been brought by Vaughn, when a series of murders of young women begins, that will by the end of the movie create a reign of terror in the city.

Watching this movie is almost like gradually seeing the curtains close in on the career of one of the finest actors in film and television. David Janssen died of a heart attack on February 13, 1980, he was 48 years old. City in Fear was a three (3) hour movie of the week. City in Fear aired on ABC a month after his death.

City in Fear is like two movies in one for it gives the viewer deep insight how newspapers and television news (Media) will go to extreme lengths to sell papers in a time of a national crisis like Son of Sam. It closely follows the killer's moves, played brilliantly for that time in television by Mickey Rourke whose victims are young women. Rourke would go on to make successful films such as 91/2 Weeks, Angel Heart and Barfly in the 1980's. David Janssen performance is in a class all by it's self, no one in this film can touch him. In my opinion David Janssen should have been awarded an Emmy posthumously for City in Fear. This movie was on video in the 1990's, additional copies may can still be found. City in Fear is not on DVD. Check this movie out, you will not be disappointed. R.I.P. David JANSSEN.

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