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84 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Noir Classic
There have been many films that have attempted to dramatize gangsterism and its existence within urban America. Works such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, Once Upon A Time In America, and Angels With Dirty Faces have been critically acclaimed for achieving realistic glimpses inside the realm of crime. The Street With No Name should rightfully take its place alongside...
Published on May 3, 2000 by Vincent Tesi

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good F.B.I. Pic
Post-war gangsterism provides a much better storyline than WWII spies in Fox's follow-up to "The House on 92nd Street." Thankfully, the reverential documentary-style sections on FBI proceedings were minimized in this movie in favor of the story concerning an FBI agent (Mark Stevens) who infiltrates a criminal gang in "Central City." Therefore, in this film you get more...
Published on March 23, 2006 by Kardius


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84 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Noir Classic, May 3, 2000
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There have been many films that have attempted to dramatize gangsterism and its existence within urban America. Works such as The Godfather, Goodfellas, Once Upon A Time In America, and Angels With Dirty Faces have been critically acclaimed for achieving realistic glimpses inside the realm of crime. The Street With No Name should rightfully take its place alongside the aforementioned masterpieces as a pivotal film that absorbs the viewer into a criminal landscape etched with- corruption, unconscious alienation, and violent power. Aptly titled, no actual street or city is identified by name, since the gritty texture of this film implies that any of the growing metropolises that dot America can claim "Center City" as its home. Pool halls, seedy motels, late night arcades, and dank diners blend into an atmospheric montage of criminal haze. Interior shots are brilliantly framed in noir style lighting. Rooms themselves seem sinister as tables, chairs, windows, and walls, become parts to an ignominious whole. Director William Keighley taking a cue from the documentary style success of House on 92nd Street (best screenplay 1945) incorporates a similar narrative touch. As in House on 92nd Street, J Edgar Hoover allows Keighley full access to film scenes at FBI headquarters and at the Bureau's training center. The scenes are authenticated by actual FBI personnel operating the latest equipment used in criminal investigations. The dialogue and acting is sharp. Martin Scorcese would be impressed with the seemingly off the cuff lines and mannerisms that the racketeering characters demonstrate. Mark Stevens is believable as the undercover FBI agent who penetrates the inner circle of an organized street gang. Lloyd Nolan is again cast as the straitlaced FBI inspector who symbolizes Hoover's insistence on vigilance and patriotism. But it is Richard Widmark who steals this picture with a riveting performance as a paranoid gang leader with a vindictive mean streak. Critics claim that Widmark's screen debut as gangster Tommy Udo in Kiss of Death (1947) was his most memorable performance but I disagree. Even though Widmark was nominated for an Oscar in Kiss of Death, his performance is marked by scripted toughness. When watching Widmark's Udo character today he seems unconvincing and severly concocted. In The Street With No Name, Widmark's character Alec Stiles is notoriously genuine. Stile's dress, talk, mannerisms, and insecurities are subtle and readily acceptable as part of a gangster's profile. Cagney, Raft, and Bogart may have garnered the eternal gangster spotlight, but Widmark's hood Alec Stiles stands as the most memorable.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dynamite Noir, September 4, 2005
By 
David Baldwin (Philadelphia,PA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Street with No Name (DVD)
This flick clicks on all cylinders. This is quintessential film noir. Director William Keighley employs two styles here. For the FBI procedural aspects of the film he employs a "Dragnet" style narrative. When dealing with the underworld element the ominous light and shadow noir approach is used. The marriage of these styles is utilized perfectly here. Richard Widmark adds another memorable character to his rogues gallery as crime boss Alex Stiles. Veterans Lloyd Nolan and John McIntire give good performances as an FBI field director and FBI undercover operative, respectively. Film was remade later as "House of Bamboo". The interesting thing about that film is all the basic elements from this film are present yet it pales in virtually every aspect to the original. "House of Bamboo" fails because it is a film almost bereft of style but see it if you must for comparison purposes.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "There's just one idea man in this outfit...me.", May 4, 2006
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This review is from: The Street with No Name (DVD)
Apparently after WWII, there was an alarming increase in `gangsterism', a term which I wasn't familiar with until I watched the film The Street with No Name (1948). Surprisingly (to me, at least) it is an actual word (according to my online dictionary), so if you're playing Scrabble and you have the right combination of letters, throw it down and earn yourself some beaucoup points...written by Harry Kleiner (Fallen Angel, The Violent Men, House of Bamboo) and directed by William Keighley ('G' Men, Bullets or Ballots, The Adventures of Robin Hood), the film stars Mark Stevens (Objective, Burma!, The Dark Corner) and Richard Widmark (Panic in the Streets, Pickup on South Street) in his second feature, following his memorable performance as the tough mug Tommy Udo in the Victor Mature vehicle Kiss of Death (1947). Also appearing is Lloyd Nolan (The House on 92nd Street), Barbara Lawrence (Oklahoma!), Ed Begley (12 Angry Men), John McIntire (Call Northside 777, Turner & Hooch), and Donald Buka (Stolen Identity), as the tough guy character Shivvy (in case it wasn't apparent by his name, he's handy with a blade, or `shiv' in gangsterism lingo). An interesting fact, `Shivvy' was also an original name for one of the original seven dwarfs, but was changed as test audiences didn't respond well to a knife wielding dwarf...go figure.

As the film begins we learn through a message hot off the wire from J. Edgar Hoover himself that gangsterism is running rampant, and if things stay the course, three out of every four Americans will, at some point, become victims of organized criminal activity. That's hardly news to the residents of Center City, as gangs have been pulling of some bold capers, resulting in a few deaths. In an effort to stem the tide of the unlawful, Special Agent Eugene Cordell is recruited straight from the academy, and given the phony baloney identity of George Manly, certainly a moniker one could hang one's hat on, with the intent he infiltrate the local underworld, gather information, and bring about some arrests...seems George has an extensive criminal record, one with surprisingly little or no convictions, and therefore is a likely candidate to join one of the larger gangs in the area (also the one responsible for a lot of the recent villainous activity), an organization lead by Alec Stiles (Widmark), a savvy, intelligent gangster with some influential friends. George, now a member of the gang, begins passing along information about the gang's plans, but Stiles and his lackeys elude capture due to a tip off from an informant within the local police department, one which Stiles uses to help ferret out the mole he believes planted within his own group. Seems Georgie's days are numbered as Stiles has come up with a unique plan to get rid of him, without getting any blood on his hands...

There are a lot of things to like about this film including the solid (and slightly predictable) writing, the extremely capable directing, but I particularly liked the performances. I thought Mark Stevens did very well in the lead, as he seemed a very personable type and was able to pull off the good guy pretending to be a bad guy very well, but I think he got upstaged by Richard Widmark, who would eventually show he could play both the antagonist and protagonist equally as well (if you get a chance, check out 1950's Panic in the Streets, where Widmark plays the hero part). I should mention Widmark has always been one of my favorite actors, so perhaps I'm a little biased, and generally the bad guys are more interesting than the good guys in features like these, but I think Widmark brought a lot to the part. The writing fleshed his character out pretty well, which was complimented by Widmark turning Stiles from just your run of the mill alpha thug into an intelligent, albeit sadistic, character working any number of angles in order to solidify his stranglehold on the city and stay one step ahead of law enforcement (at least the law enforcement not corrupted by the criminal element). Widmark did seemed slightly constrained here, so perhaps he was still coming into his own given this was only his second film. I particularly liked his character's screening process which he used to draw in potential recruits to his gang. I also liked how he utilized techniques normally used by law enforcement to his own ends, especially in terms of finding out who within his group was the rat. The story, which was apparently developed with the aid of the FBI (as stated in some upfront text), moves along well, and has a number of scenes relating investigational techniques used at the time, many of which are still employed today (fingerprint analysis, matching the grooves on spent bullets, etc.). This kind of information is old news to us nowadays given the popularity of the investigational police dramas scattered across the television, but I'm sure at the time the movie was released, the general public probably had little idea how law enforcement collected evidence and used it against those who would commit crime. One interesting fact I did learn while watching this feature was that back in the day, police procedure seemed to be `shoot first, shoot again, and then ask questions'. The funniest part for me involved John McIntire's character, who was the direct contact man for Cordell while he was undercover. He was holed up in a squalid, fleabag flophouse across from Cordell's squalid, fleabag flophouse, and he would use an odd and cumbersome looking shortwave getup to communicate with headquarters, one that featured some large headphones with antenna protruding from the top. All in all I thought this a solid feature with definite `noir-ish' qualities, one worth checking out if you enjoy black and white crime dramas.

The picture, presented in fullscreen aspect ratio (1.33:1), looks good, but it does have some imperfections, mainly the occasional vertical line running down the screen. It's not as bad as I've seen in other releases, but it is noticeable from time to time. The audio, available in both Dolby Digital stereo and mono, comes through clean. Special features included are an interesting and engaging commentary track featuring film historians James Ursini and Alain Silver, a theatrical trailer for the film, and trailers for other 20th Century Fox noir DVD releases like Call Northside 777 (1948), House of Bamboo (1955), Laura (1944), and Panic in the Streets (1950).

Cookieman108
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars To build an organization along scientific lines!, July 3, 2006
This review is from: The Street with No Name (DVD)
When an innocent man is killed in a nightclub holdup in Center City suburbs, the Inspector Briggs firmly suspects about the existence of a gang zealously prepared and even disposed to take possession of the city. An undercover agent will penetrate the web thanks to his boxing abilities. Soon he will make the first contact with Alec Stiles (Richard Widmark) and so he gets to infiltrate himself in this underworld organization.

This is one of the most grimly and realistic Noir films of the late forties, zealously detailed in which semi documentary style concerns.

Widmark is simply superb. He develops a fascinating characterization as a neurotic gangster with suggested homosexual tendencies, phobia against the germs, and the remarkable inclination toward the military discipline; you may realize how he plans his villainies with astringent precision and displays the best of his skills to make of this outstanding movie at least the half of its virtues.

All of us who are beware about the trajectory of William Keighley (The G men), know about his special predilection for this genre. He was an expert around these themes and we must acknowledge him for this unusual and outstanding film.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good F.B.I. Pic, March 23, 2006
This review is from: The Street with No Name (DVD)
Post-war gangsterism provides a much better storyline than WWII spies in Fox's follow-up to "The House on 92nd Street." Thankfully, the reverential documentary-style sections on FBI proceedings were minimized in this movie in favor of the story concerning an FBI agent (Mark Stevens) who infiltrates a criminal gang in "Central City." Therefore, in this film you get more of the great black and white cinematography that visually characterizes the film noir genre.

Also, the cast is much better. Best of all is Richard Widmark. He provides another great portrayal of a villain right after becoming known in "Kiss of Death." Mark Stevens looks more convincing as a criminal than an agent, but he's much better here than in "The Dark Corner." (Like "Kiss of Death," the film is also on the Fox film noir DVD collection, and both are much better films than "The Street With No Name"). And, although she's only on screen for a handful of minutes, Barbara Lawrence (the only woman in the cast) makes quite an impression as Widmark's wife. She's quite a dame.

In sum, "The Street With No Name" is not the best of noirs, but the semi-documentary film is still fascinating to watch, and a significant improvement over Fox's first F.B.I. pic, "The House on 92nd Street," also available on DVD.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylish "noirish" FBI procedural, May 18, 1999
Made with the full cooperation of the FBI, "The Street With No Name" was the second in a series of Fox produced paeans to the law enforcement agency. The first, "The House on 92nd Street" from 1945, was a trend-setter, introducing documentary touches to the crime drama. Lloyd Nolan appears as an agent named Briggs in both films and his billing in "Street" suggests confusion on the studio's part concerning the importance of this recurring character. On screen, Nolan is billed above the title immediately after Stevens and Widmark, and his name appears in the same sized type. On the film's poster, only Widmark is prominently featured, suggesting that "the star discovery of 'Kiss of Death,'" as he is described in the trailer, was the primary draw.

Though inexplicably forgotten when the American Film Institute compiled its list of the greatest heroes and villains, Widmark created as much of a sensation in 1947 with his cackling killer, Tom Udo, in the Henry Hathaway directed "Kiss of Death," as Anthony Hopkins did as Hannibal Lector in 1991's "Silence of the Lambs." Most notable for the scene in which Widmark ties an old woman into her wheelchair, then sends her sailing down a flight of stairs to her death, "Kiss of Death" revived the gangster genre and may have kick-started Cagney's return to villain roles in "White Heat" in which his explosive Cody Jarrett bore some similarity to Widmark's giggling psycho.

Widmark's giggle is only fleetingly heard in "Street" but his character, Alec Stiles, has his own eccentricities. He grows violent at the sight of an open window and always complains about cold. It's freezing in here he yells, as he slaps a maintenance man who left his office door open when mopping the floor.

"The Street With No Name" fits somewhat uncomfortably into the noir category. It has many touches that bring to mind the best of the genre including its location filming, rainy city streets, and exceptional cinematography by Joe McDonald whose credits include Elia Kazan's 1950 noir "Panic in the Streets." Some scenes effectively appear to be lit only by flashlight or, when Stevens meets Nolan on a nighttime ferry, by a cigarette lighter.

But the film strays from noir genre with its overly zealous portrayal of the FBI as an infallible organization so heroic its armor shines bright enough to uncover evil in the darkest, most secret places. As the camera follows agents in their clean, brightly lit offices, comparing the bullets used in two separate murders or searching through files in scenes filmed in actual FBI locations, the accompanying music is so upbeat, you almost wonder why director William Keighley didn't ask the special-effects department to manufacture halos and angel's wings for the agents, so supernaturally pure are they depicted to be.

At several points in the film, agents are shown awaiting messages on a teletype machine from bureau director J. Edgar Hoover. When the messages arrive signed "Hoover," we are probably meant to feel as though the agents are Moses while Hoover is God delivering something on the order of the Ten Commandments. Today, of course, Hoover's image is not nearly so pristine. More than anything, the saintly portrayal of Hoover and the FBI dates "The Street With No Name" and pushes it to the margins of noir, a genre that rarely portrayed characters untainted by crime or corruption even if they were on the side of law and order.

Brian W. Fairbanks
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Richard Widmark is a great fiend., August 1, 2006
By 
JOHN GODFREY (Milwaukee ,WI USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Street with No Name (DVD)
He speaks well, is a snappy dresser & is a natural leader. He also likes to snort menthyl, is a psycho that beats his wife & kills innocent people. He is a scientific crime boss. The FBI is also just starting to go high tech in this 1948 noir crime drama. They are establishing a nation-wide data base & Widmark as Alec Stiles is exploiting it to his benefit. Mark Stevens plays Gene Cordell with the alias of George Manly. He's an FBI agent & infiltrates Stiles gang to find evidence for murders they believe Stiles committed. It those days the FBI was seen as infallible & could do no wrong. You know, truth justice & the American way. J. Edgar Hoover was god. Of course this was long before he was revealed to being a cross-dressing hypocrite who couldn't be honest with the American people if he tried. I have no probelm with a [...] FBI director. In hindsight it couldn't hurt. Anyway this is done in a semi-documentary style & is a very good crime drama.John McIntyre is very good in a supporting role as as an undercover agent Cy Gordon, trying to keep tabs on Agent Cordell & is his contact with the agency. Lloyd Nolan is their boss, Inspector Briggs. Many of the scenes such as the clandestine meeting on the ferry boat are classic film making.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars FBI docudrama, July 21, 2005
By 
Cory D. Slipman (Rockville Centre, N.Y.) - See all my reviews
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Richard Widmark plays cerebral and hypochondriacal Alec Stiles, boss of a crime syndicate in metropolitan Centre City. Stiles, an up and comer in the world of crime has orchestrated two capers that have resulted in two deaths using the same pistol as the murder weapon.

FBI investigator George Briggs played by a no nonsense Lloyd Nolan, recruits agent Gene Cordell played by Mark Stevens to infiltrate Widmark's gang. Stevens eventually gains Widmark's confidence and becomes a member of the gang. He soon learns that Widmark has a stoolie in the local police who is able to access FBI reports making life dangerous for Stevens.

Director William Keighley in dramatic documentary style proceeds to chronicle the effort put forth by the FBI and local law enforcement to prosecute Widmark and his ruthless gang. Of course we learn that crime doesn't pay
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Part Docudrama, Part Propaganda., July 20, 2005
This review is from: The Street with No Name (DVD)
"The Street with No Name" was among the documentary-style dramas that came into fashion in the late 1940s. This docudrama was inspired by a true story, "adapted from the files of the Federal Bureau of Investigation". In keeping with the documentary style, it was filmed in some real locations and features real FBI agents in small roles. Cinematographer Joe MacDonald also did the true crime docudrama "Call Northside 777", which I think is a better film, but his work on "The Street with No Name" is also excellent. MacDonald uses a combination of low-key "noir" lighting and high-key documentary lighting to bring both sensibilities to the film. "The Street with No Name" distinguishes itself, in my mind, from other docudramas of the era by its binary nature and by constant allusions to the gangster films of the 1930s. The film is part police procedural and part docudrama. It vacillates between the two, but they are not integrated. The manner and appearance of the criminals are straight out of the 1930s. In fact, if someone were unfamiliar with the technological limitations of the 1930s, he might assume that "The Street with No Name" was made then.

When 2 robberies result in 2 murders within 5 days in Center City, law enforcement fears a bona fide crime wave perpetrated by organized gangsters. Inspector George Briggs (Lloyd Nolan) of the FBI is given the responsibility of finding the culprit and breaking the gang. When a suspect is framed for the murders, arrested, released, and then found murdered, Briggs decides he needs an undercover agent to infiltrate the operation. Agent Gene Cordell (Mark Stevens) poses as a drifter named George Manly and circulates in the skid row area. His performance in the boxing ring catches the eye of crime boss Alec Stiles (Richard Widmark), who proposes that George work for him on an upcoming heist. Meanwhile, it has become clear that Stiles has an informant in the local police department. Agent Cordell must gather evidence against the gang and find the police mole before he is found out himself.

"The Street with No Name" is similar to "T-Men", which was released the same year, in that both are docudramas based on real cases involving undercover FBI agents. But, beyond that, the two films couldn't be more different. "T-Men" is a true film noir that may be interpreted as laudatory towards the FBI or cynical, as the agents are consumed by the brutality in which they immerse themselves. "The Street with No Name" is propaganda for J. Edgar Hoover's FBI. It begins with Hoover's proclamation that the nation is in the midst of an organized crime wave at the hands of amoral gangsters who would unleash indiscriminate violence on the populace, eventually affecting 3 out of 4 Americans, unless the agency swiftly put a stop to it. I believe the implication is: Unless the FBI were given a free hand. This film was released in 1948, a decade after the crime wave. "The Street with No Name" was trying to create public support for its policies by generating paranoia. Then it shows us how the modern FBI will triumph over crime by touting the efficiency and sophistication of the FBI for the rest of the film.

I find Hoover's rabble-rousing distasteful, but the dramatic aspects of "The Street with No Name" are engaging. Richard Widmark is looking very sharp as the compulsive, intense Alec Stiles, a man who is in control of his business but not not entirely in control of himself. Widmark was a wonderful character actor who brought an intensity and candor to all of his "noir" roles -which makes me wish he had more screen time here. Barbara Lawrence has a small but memorable role as Stiles' wife Judy, who can take abuse and dish it right back. "The Street with No Name" is a solid police procedural/gangster film -that might have been improved by concentrating more on characters and less on propagandizing. The story was transplanted to Japan and remade as "House of Bamboo" in 1955.

The DVD (20th Century Fox 2005): Bonus features include a trailer for this film and 4 other films and an audio commentary by film noir theorists and authors James Ursini and Alain Silver. Ursini and Silver talk about the history of documentary-noir at 20th Century Fox, the style, structure, actors, and characters in this film, as well as the binary nature of the film and its similarities to 1930s gangster cinema. Subtitles are available for the film in English and Spanish. Dubbing is available in Spanish.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Take a Trip down Widmark Avenue...., June 20, 2010
This review is from: The Street with No Name (DVD)
I learned from the very able James Ursini/ Alain Silver commentary, that THE STREET WITH NO NAME was initially made, because Fox wanted to replicate the popularity of their THE HOUSE ON 92nd STREET, made three years earlier. They also, not surprisingly, wanted to give Richard Widmark another "Tommy Udo" role.

I have to think the product they ended up with was quite different from the one they intended. Firstly, Henry Hathaway, who directed 92nd STREET, had other obligations and couldn't direct, so they replaced him with William Keighley. As such, the film has an early "gangster picture" feel to it, that emerges after the intial 10 minutes of documentary-style footage.

Secondly, Widmark's portrayal of gangster Alec Stiles was a little more restrained than his role in KISS OF DEATH (1947). Here, Stiles is as much an intelligent businessman as he is a violent criminal. Both of these alterations make for an interesting and unique entry into the noir canon.

The plot involves the discovery and infiltration of Stiles' gang by FBI agent Gene Cordell. Cordell is played by Mark Stevens. Stevens is very good here; much better than his THE DARK CORNER (1946) appearance. Cordell's boss is Inspector George A. Briggs played by Lloyd Nolan; another tie-in with 92nd STREET, as the same actor and character name are employed there, as well.

So the stage is set; the FBI have an agent in the gang, but the gang have an agent in the police force. But make no mistake, Richard Widmark is the show here, and noir cinematographer Joe MacDonald does a great job filming him and his surroundings. Recommended.
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The Street with No Name
The Street with No Name by William Keighley (DVD - 2005)
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