Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tonight's Movie: The Street With No Name (1948)

THE STREET WITH NO NAME is an entertaining "docu-noir" follow-up to THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET (1945).

Lloyd Nolan once again plays George Briggs of the FBI. This time Briggs supervises Agent Gene Cordell (Mark Stevens), who infiltrates an organized crime ring headed by Alec Stiles (Richard Widmark). Cordell is endangered by a police department informant, leaving the FBI with the mission of not only capturing Stiles and his gang but saving Cordell's life.

Like THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET, the movie utilizes footage shot at FBI headquarters, as well as real FBI employees. The memorable shot of the huge FBI file room seen in the earlier film reappears in this movie. The movie also filmed at various Southern California locations, giving the movie's depiction of seedy, crime-filled streets a very authentic feel. Unlike THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET, THE STREET WITH NO NAME does not feature voiceover narration; it plays a little less like a docudrama and more like a straight crime story.

This was Richard Widmark's second film, following his Oscar-nominated film debut in KISS OF DEATH (1947). He is never less than riveting as the charismatic hoodlum. Widmark gives the movie a jolt of electricity once he enters the picture.

Mark Stevens does a solid job as the FBI agent. He played the lead role in a number of films of the '40s and '50s, yet he never became a big star. His notable starring roles included the film noir THE DARK CORNER (1946); THE SNAKE PIT (1948) with Olivia de Havilland; and the June Haver films I WONDER WHO'S KISSING HER NOW (1947) and OH, YOU BEAUTIFUL DOLL (1950). He also directed a few films and TV shows including CRY VENGEANCE (1954), in which he also starred. He retired in 1987 and passed away in 1994.

Barbara Lawrence is effective in a small role as Stiles' wife. Lawrence was an interesting actress who should have had a bigger career. Her films included MARGIE (1946), UNFAITHFULLY YOURS (1948), YOU WERE MEANT FOR ME (1948), THIEVES' HIGHWAY (1949), and OKLAHOMA! (1955). Lawrence retired in 1962 and today is 82.

Ed Begley, Joseph Pevney, and Donald Buka are also in the cast. John McIntire was particularly good as Cordell's FBI contact.

THE STREET WITH NO NAME was directed by William Keighley. It was shot in black and white by Joe McDonald, whose filming of the dark, spooky streets gives the film great style. The running time is 91 minutes.

In 1955 the film was remade as HOUSE OF BAMBOO, starring Robert Stack and Robert Ryan.

THE STREET WITH NO NAME has been released on DVD as No. 5 in the Fox Film Noir series. Extras include a commentary track by James Ursini and Alain Silver.

This film has also been released on VHS.

THE STREET WITH NO NAME can also be seen on Fox Movie Channel. Future air dates include May 21, June 21, and June 22, 2010.


Blogger la peregrina said...

Richard Widmark, my first big movie crush as a kid. I think the first movie I saw him in was Panic In The Streets a very intense movie for a nine year old. Good thing the TV station that showed it put so many commercial interruptions into it. I needed those breaks as Jack Palance scared me to death.

9:10 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I liked PANIC IN THE STREETS (1950) as well. Good stuff, and you're right, Palance was scary!

Best wishes,

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Robert Sieger said...

I am watching "The Street With No Name" right now and there IS a small amount of voiceover narration but the IMDb does not indicate whose voice it is. Do you know?

6:05 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Robert,

I'm going to need to watch this again and pick up on the bit of narration and see if I can recognize the voice! Thank you for pointing it out.

Best wishes,

7:21 PM  

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