MYSTERY STREET was a wonderful surprise, a film noir/police procedural with Ricardo Montalban as a Boston detective, circa 1950.
Montalban's Lieutenant Morales joins with Dr. McAdoo (Bruce Bennett), a forensic specialist from Harvard's Department of Legal Medicine, in order to solve the case of a skeleton found on Cape Cod. Watching them gradually put together the pieces of the case using both science and old-fashioned legwork is fascinating. (Morales tells McAdoo something along the lines "You solve cases with your brains, I solve them with my feet.") It's also quite interesting having a peek at the state of forensic medicine over half a century ago. 93 minutes fly by quite quickly.
Montalban is excellent and handsome to look at, as well. (Georgiana Young Montalban was a lucky woman.) I've seen him in everything from Esther Williams movies to STAR TREK: THE WRATH OF KHAN to playing the King onstage in THE KING AND I, and even watched him filming a scene on the FANTASY ISLAND soundstage once upon a time, but had never seen him in a role when he was this young that wasn't in a musical or Western.
Bruce Bennett (THE MAN I LOVE) is also terrific as the Harvard scientist. The fine supporting cast includes Sally Forrest, Marshall Thompson, Elsa Lanchester (chewing up the scenery as only Elsa could do), Betsy Blair, and Jan Sterling.
This is one of those fine little movies you might never have heard of which is out there just waiting to be discovered. It was strikingly filmed on location in Boston by cinematographer John Alton, who is particularly known for his black and white photography. (A couple videos I have of Anthony Mann film noirs actually advertise "Photographed By John Alton" on the side of the box.) Alton was equally skilled with color photography, winning the Academy Award for shooting the ballet in AN AMERICAN IN PARIS; he shared the award with Alfred Gilks.
The script was cowritten by writer-director Richard Brooks (THE BLACKBOARD JUNGLE). It was directed by John Sturges. Three Sturges-directed Westerns have been reviewed here previously: BACKLASH (1956), ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO (1953), and SADDLE THE WIND (1958). ESCAPE FROM FORT BRAVO and SADDLE THE WIND will be included in the Warner Western Classics set coming to DVD this summer.
MYSTERY STREET is available on DVD. It can be purchased as part of a double bill with ACT OF VIOLENCE, or as part of the 10-film Film Noir Classic Collection, Vol. 4. I purchased the big set when Amazon recently had it on sale for $29.99; $3.00 per movie struck me as a great deal, particularly as every film in the set has a commentary, featurette, and other extras. A DVD review from Glenn Erickson at DVD Savant is here.
The trailer can be seen at the Turner Classic Movies website here. This MGM film is part of the TCM library.
This film would be great on a double bill with MGM's 1942 film KID GLOVE KILLER, which starred Van Heflin and Marsha Hunt in another "early CSI" procedural detective story.
A very enjoyable viewing experience.