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Panic in the Streets (1950)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 15 September 1950 (USA)
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A doctor and a policeman in New Orleans have only 48 hours to locate a killer infected with pneumonic plague.

Director:

Elia Kazan

Writers:

Richard Murphy (screenplay), Daniel Fuchs (adaptation) | 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Richard Widmark ... Lt. Cmdr. Clinton 'Clint' Reed M.D.
Paul Douglas ... Capt. Tom Warren
Barbara Bel Geddes ... Nancy Reed
Jack Palance ... Blackie (as Walter Jack Palance)
Zero Mostel ... Raymond Fitch
Dan Riss ... Neff - Newspaper Reporter
Tommy Cook ... Vince Poldi - Younger Brother
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Storyline

When a body is found in the New Orleans docks, it's pretty obvious that he died from gun shot wounds. The police surgeon notices that the man is also displaying other symptoms and Lt. Commander Clint Reed, a doctor with the U.S. Public Health Service, diagnoses a highly contagious disease, pneumonic plague. He tries to convince local officials to find everyone who may have been in contact with the dead man. The Mayor supports his efforts but many, including the police, are doubtful. Reed wants to avoid publicity so as not to panic the public. They have little information to go on - they don't know the dead man's identity - and Reed estimates they have 48 hours before disease begins to spread. With police Capt. Tom Warren going through the motions, Reed sets out to find the killers. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

THE SCREEN'S GREATEST EXCITEMENT OF THE YEAR! (original print ad - all caps) See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Mandarin | Greek

Release Date:

15 September 1950 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Outbreak See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,400,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to an article in the February 21, 1949 edition of the New York Herald-Tribune Dana Andrews and Linda Darnell were originally cast in this film. See more »

Goofs

As Dr. Reed walks toward the house to thin the paint, and is informed he is wanted on the phone, he removes his gloves and tosses them to the ground. In the next cut, viewed from the house, he again removes his gloves, and tosses them on the ground. See more »

Quotes

Raymond Fitch: Oh, yeah. I went to see my mother-in-law. She was wrestling semifinals...
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Connections

Featured in A Letter to Elia (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Fine and Mellow
(uncredited)
Written by Billie Holiday
Played (with vocal by a male singer) as background during a nightlife scene
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Microbe Killer Stalks The Big Easy
27 March 2008 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

In Panic In The Streets Richard Widmark plays U.S. Navy doctor who has his week rudely interrupted with a corpse that contains plague. As cop Paul Douglas properly points out the guy died from two bullets in the chest. That's not the issue here, the two of them become unwilling partners in an effort to find the killers and anyone else exposed to the disease.

As was pointed out by any number of people, for some reason director Elia Kazan did not bother to cast the small parts with anyone that sounds like they're from Louisiana. Having been to New Orleans where the story takes place I can personally attest to that. Richard Widmark and his wife Barbara Bel Geddes can be excused because as a Navy doctor he could be assigned there, but for those that are natives it doesn't work.

But with plague out there and the news being kept a secret, the New Orleans PD starts a dragnet of the city's underworld. The dead guy came off a ship from Europe and he had underworld connections. A New Orleans wise guy played by Jack Palance jumps to a whole bunch of erroneous conclusions and starts harassing a cousin of the dead guy who is starting to show plague symptoms. Palance got rave reviews in the first film where he received notice.

Personally my favorite in this film is Zero Mostel. This happened right before Mostel was blacklisted and around that time he made a specialty of playing would be tough guys who are really toadies. He plays the same kind of role in the Humphrey Bogart film, The Enforcer. Sadly I can kind of identify with Mostel in that last chase scene where he and Palance are being chased down by Widmark, Douglas, and half the New Orleans Police. Seeing the weight challenged Zero trying to keep up with Palance was something else because I'm kind of in Zero's league now in the heft department.

Kazan kept the action going at a good clip, there's very little down time in this film. If there was any less it would be an Indiana Jones film. Panic In The Streets won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay that year.

Kazan also made good use of the New Orleans waterfront and the French Quarter. Some of the same kinds of shots are later used in On the Waterfront. In fact Panic In The Streets is about people not squealing when they really should in their own best interest. Very similar again to On the Waterfront.

Panic In The Streets does everyone proud who was associated with it. Now why couldn't Elia Kazan get some decent New Orleans sounding people in the small roles.


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