A New York City detective, traveling by train between New York and Baltimore, tries to foil an on-board plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln before he reaches Baltimore to give a major pre-Inauguration speech in 1861.
Joe Norson, a poor letter carrier with a sweet, pregnant wife, yields to momentary temptation and steals $30,000 belonging to a pair of ruthless blackmailers who won't stop at murder. After a few days of soul-searching, Joe offers to return the money, only to find that the "friend" he left it with has absconded. Now every move Joe makes plunges him deeper into trouble, as he's pursued and pursuing through the shadowy, sinister side of New York.Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
This film was a failure at the box office for MGM, resulting in a loss of $467,000 ($4.86M in 2017) according to studio records. See more »
When Joe is looking for Harriet, he is seen leaving the front of Marie's Crisis Cafe. Then in the next shot he appears to be inside the same place - note the pattern of the iron grating on the double windows and their location in each shot. See more »
Captain Walter Anderson:
New York City: an architectural jungle where fabulous wealth and the deepest squalor live side by side. New York: the busiest, the loneliest, the kindest, and the cruelest of cities. I live here and work here. My name is Walter Anderson. I'm one of an army of twenty thousand whose job is to protect the citizens in this city of eight million. So, twenty-four hours a day you'll find our men on Park Avenue... Times Square... Central Park... Fulton Market... the subway. ...
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Farley Granger dominates this urban crime drama about a man named Joe Norson, a down-on-his-luck mailman who happens on to a wad of cash, and impulsively steals it, not knowing that the money is connected to the murder of a well-known woman. Sensing his mistake, Joe tries to straighten out the situation, but does all the wrong things. In the process, he gets mixed up with thugs. It's Joe's choices that propel the plot.
More than anything else, "Side Street" is a character study of Joe, described by the film's narrator as: "no hero, no criminal, just human like all of us, weak like some of us, foolish like most of us". He's basically a good guy. But he gets tempted. When he yields to the temptation to steal, his whole world unravels.
As with 1940s noir crime dramas, all the characters in "Side Street" seem desperate, frightened, and unhappy. They're like rats in a maze. And the film's setting in lower Manhattan really accentuates that boxed in, trapped, claustrophobic feeling.
The B&W cinematography is excellent. From wide shots to close-ups, from low-angle to very high-angle, the variety of camera shots keeps the visuals interesting. Overhead shots of Manhattan at the beginning are among the best I have seen for such an old movie. Lighting is noir-based, consistent with crime films of that era.
My only complaint is that some of the secondary characters are a tad difficult to keep track of, a fault of the script. But a second viewing clears things up.
Beautifully photographed on location in lower Manhattan with its maze of narrow side streets, "Side Street" is a well-made film with an interesting story about a regular guy, trapped in a literal maze between tall buildings and a thematic maze of difficult choices. Farley Granger gives a fine performance, as does Cathy O'Donnell, his long-suffering wife.
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