After two gang-related killings in "Center City," a suspect (who was framed) is arrested, released on bail...and murdered. Inspector Briggs of the FBI recruits a young agent, Gene Cordell, to go undercover in the shadowy Skid Row area (alias George Manly) as a potential victim of the same racket. Soon, Gene meets Alec Stiles, neurotic mastermind who's "building an organization along scientific lines." Stiles recruits Cordell, whose job becomes a lot more dangerous...Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is one of three consecutive Richard Widmark films (all Noir) where he plays the villain, in the middle of Kiss Of Death and Road House. See more »
When the load of newspapers is thrown on the rain-soaked street from the moving vehicle it rolls over ensuring that both sides have been exposed to the street's wetness. However the resultant cut-in shows the news headlines clean and dry with no hint of dirt or moisture. See more »
Music by Harry Akst
Played on the arcade piano
Also played at the saloon See more »
Few-frills agent-in-peril noir benefits from Widmark, Stevens
J. Edgar Hoover, it now seems, was a mediocre crimefighter but a master orchestrator of his own publicity (and only secondarily that of the FBI). The Street With No Name stands as one of the better films dedicated to kissing his assiduously cultivated legend. Most directors assigned these tasks in the noir cycle wrote off such idolatry as a cost of doing business, clearing it away quickly so as to get on with their moviemaking; William Keighley follows this sensible agenda.
FBI agent Mark Stevens goes undercover to infiltrate the mob in that cesspool of crime, Center City, USA. In the boxing ring, he attracts the attention, slightly open to inference, of boss Richard Widmark, a dapper ("I like my boys to look sharp") cutthroat with a morbid fear of drafts and sneezes. With the aid of confederate John McIntyre, Stevens reports the gang's plans back to the FBI. Alas, a high-placed informant in the police department reports the FBI's plans back to Widmark.
So the movie boils down to the agent-in-peril story. Keighley tells it cleanly and briskly, eschewing the complexities (both visual and moral) of Anthony Mann's T-Men, released just a few months earlier. It's strongest in the feel for Center City's raffish tenderloin, with its fleabag hotels, pool halls and walk-up gyms. Stevens, McIntyre and Lloyd Nolan (as Stevens' superior) give workmanlike jobs with the rather staid roles scriptwriter Harry Kleiner supplies. His few-frills approach reins in Widmark, too, who's always better when he's unfettered and shooting over the top.
The Street With No Name suffers a bit from staying so resolutely all-guy; thus Barbara Lawrence suffers, too, in an underwritten and inconsequential part as Widmark's abused moll. A little more cool yin might have balanced out all that hot, hard yang.
NOTE: In 1955, Samuel Fuller remade -- and rethought -- this movie, using the same screenwriter and cinematographer (Joe MacDonald, now working in color) as House of Bamboo, set in postwar Tokyo.
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