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Panic in the Streets [1950] [Remastered]

82 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

One night in the New Orleans slums, vicious hoodium Blackie and his friends kill an illegal immigrant who won too much in a card game. Next morning, Dr. Clint Reed of the Public Health Service confirms the dead man had pneumonic plague. To prevent a catastrophic epidemic, Clint must find and inoculate the killers and their associates, with the reluctant aid of police captain Tom Warren, despite official skepticism, and in total secrecy, lest panic empty the city. Can a doctor turn detective.


This is an above-average chase meller. Tightly scripted and directed, it concerns the successful attempts to capture a couple of criminals, who are germ carriers, in order to prevent a plague and panic in a large city. The plague angle is somewhat incidental to the cops-and-bandits theme...There is vivid action, nice human touches and some bizarre moments. Jack Palance gives a sharp performance." --Variety magazine

The film noir elements come from the movie's use of post-war German Expressionist and Italian Neo-Realist techniques. Kazan admired how the Expressionists used chiaroscuro lighting to heighten emotion, and he related to the Neo-Realists' verité portrayals of those living on the margin of society. Panic offered him a chance to explore these styles further by experimenting with cinematography and casting real people. After working with some of the biggest stars in Hollywood Dorothy McGuire, Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, Dana Andrews, Gregory Peck and Ethel Barrymore Kazan wanted to go in the opposite direction. To suit the needs of this picture and his new approach, he recruited not only lesser stars, but also some of his rougher cronies from the New York stage scene, and on top of that several New Orleanians with varied levels of acting experience." --David Lee Simmons

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Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Widmark, Paul Douglas, Barbara Bel Geddes, Jack Palance, Zero Mostel
  • Directors: Elia Kazan
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio:
  • DVD Release Date: September 25, 2008
  • Run Time: 96 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (82 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #216,100 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 44 people found the following review helpful By cookieman108 on August 7, 2005
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Love him or hate him (many in Hollywood still do, hate him, that is, based on his cooperating with the HUAC - House Un-American Activities Committee back in the early 50s), Elia Kazan knew how to make damn good films, including such features as A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), On the Waterfront (1954), which won eight Academy Awards, including one for best direction and one for best actor in leading role for Marlon Brando, Splendor in the Grass (1961), and this earlier effort titled Panic in the Streets (1950), which also won an Academy Award in the best writing motion picture story category for Edward and Edna Anhalt. Starring in the film is Richard Widmark, whom I last saw in the one of the unfunniest comedies I've ever seen in National Lampoon's Movie Madness (1983), so I really relished this opportunity to put that experience in the past as I knew Widmark capable of much better things having seen Pickup on South Street (1953), which I think is one of his best films (I have yet to see them all). Also appearing is Paul Douglas (It Happens Every Spring), Barbara Bel Geddes (Vertigo), Zero Mostel (The Producers), Guy Thomajan (The Pink Panther), and Jack `Believe it...or not!' Palance (The Professionals, Torture Garden) in what appears to be his first silver screen role, credited as Walter Jack Palance.

The story, which takes place in New Orleans, or New Awlins', if you prefer, begins as a seedy poker game breaks up early due to one of the players feeling all sick like...
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Klein HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 2, 2005
Format: DVD
Dr. Clint Reed (Richard Widmark) and New Orleans Police Captain Tom Warren (Paul Douglas) frantically search for a pair of criminals involved with the murder of a card player who may have been infected with plague by the victim. Reed and Warren have 48 hours to find the criminals before they become infectious and spread plague through the population like a wildfire. Although it doesn't compare to the gorefests that pass for suspense thrillers today. Kazan's eighth film as a director is filled with long takes influenced by Welles (although far more naturalistic looking without the unusual angles that Gregg Toland used on Welles' masterpiece "Citizen Kane") creating as much suspense by letting the action play out as the quick cutting style of Hitchcock and other directors working at the time. Featuring the lovely and underrated Barbara Bel Geddes as Widmark's wife, "Panic in the Streets" continues to astound with its suspenseful direction and brutal violence. A young Jack Palance steals the film with his role as "Blackie" one of the infected criminals and Zero Mostel appears as the other criminal a year or two before Kazan ratted him out to the House of Un-American Acitivies. A believable, powerful drama that still resonates today because of Kazan's on location shooting and powerful down-to-earth performances. Writer Murphy and Kazan would frequently allow the actors to improvise some of their scenes changing dialogue around to bring a sense of spontaneity. Kazan's film, unlike many of the time, shows interdepartmental conflicts slowing down the hunt for the infected men.

"Panic in the Streets" looks good in its first presentation on DVD. There's a predictable amount of grain and dirt but, on the whole, there's nothing to panic about.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By B. Margolis on March 20, 2005
Format: DVD
I remember catching this movie on TV about 15 years ago, and I immediately fell in love with it, despite the fact that I wasn't particularly crazy about any of the stars, or even 'film noir'.

This amazing gritty documentary-style film just jells perfectly; the setup of the plague, Richard Widmark and Paul Douglas' dilemma, the sleazy New Orleans waterfront dives and characters.

Director Elia Kazan used real locations and often real local people; some of the cops were New Orleans cops, etc.

I'm so glad that this has finally been released....and hopefully most of you will discover one of the most distinctive films of the late 1940's...right up with there with "White Heat". top it off, the opening theme music by Alfred Newman is, in my mind, one of the amazingly spirited and exiting themes in the history of motion pictures.....
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Manderly on January 23, 2006
Format: DVD
New Orleans locales are the setting for this exciting film noir classic that deals with a member of a small time gang that is murdered by his fellow gang members. The police uncover the body and discover he was also sick with pneumonic plague. Richard Widmark shines as the U.S. Health Inspector physician that gives his all to find the men that may also be carrying the plague. Paul Douglas does a great job as the tough-talking Chief of Police who joins Widmark in the manhunt. Barbara Bel Geddes plays Widmark's wife with her usual sweet charm. I especially enjoyed watching them with their young son, there is a genuine family feel to their scenes together. Jack Palance, with his sharp facial features, plays tough gang leader, Blackie. Unaware that the dead man was carrying the plague, Blackie hears he carried something into the country and goes after the man's friends, thinking he's hid a stash of cash somewhere. The dvd transfer, as well as the audio, is very clean and sharp. Dvd includes movie book insert, featuring info on the movie and it's stars. A nice image of Jack Palance's character, Blackie, is imprinted on the disc surface. Dramatic, exciting, and very entertaining, I recommend "Panic in the Streets," the third entry in the "Fox Film Noir" series, to all film noir and classic cinema buffs. This one keeps your attention throughout.
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