Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Street With No Name

"The Street with No Name" (William Keighley, 1948) Another of the odd docu-dramas with the real ambiences, but not better actors that 20th Century Fox made in the 40's with the FBI's full co-operation. Lloyd Nolan again plays FBI inspector George Briggs (although he's been promoted since being an agent in 1945's "The House on 92nd Street") who hires a new recruit to infiltrate a mob racket run by Alec Stiles (the late Richard Widmark, a year after tearing up the screen in "Kiss of Death"). Mark Stevens plays the mole, while a young John McIntire (wait a minute, he looks old in this one, too!) is his chief contact. The gang is high on fashion, but low on smarts with the exception of Stiles, who's big on by-the-book schemes, secret rooms in warehouses and likes to whine about his gang, his moll, and probably the government, too, if he actually paid taxes. The movie builds to a violent climax with anybody-who's-anybody in the cast all in the same place dodging bullets and daggers and hiding in all the spacious blackness that director Keighley and cinematographer Joe MacDonald (he shot "My Darling Clementine," "Call Northside 777," and "Pickup on South Street") can offer. It's a minor noir, curious only for Widmark's early work and the spare elements of the truthiness at FBI Headquarters, which are less on display than "The House on 92nd Street." This would be the last film of its type to come along until James Stewart starred in "The FBI Story" in 1959, and, of course the TV series "The F.B.I." starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jnr.

No comments: