Elia Kazan – Panic in the Streets [+Extras] (1950)

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Synopsis from AMG:
Filmed entirely on location in New Orleans, Panic in the Streets stars Richard Widmark as a city medical officer, racing against time to stop a plague epidemic. The carrier was an illegal alien, who has been murdered by criminals Jack Palance and Zero Mostel. At first facing opposition from rule-bound police captain Paul Douglas, Widmark is finally able to work hand-in-glove with Douglas in tracking down Palance and Mostel, who have themselves become plague carriers. Many of the actors in Panic in the Streets are local nonprofessionals, selected by director Elia Kazan because of their “rightness” within the framework of the story; the rest of the cast is peopled by such film veterans as Barbara Bel Geddes, Tommy Cook, Emile Meyer and H.T. Tsiang. Widmark’s son is played by an uncredited Tommy Rettig, four years before he starred on the Lassie TV series. Though Elia Kazan liked to claim that much of Panic in the Streets was improvised, there was a script, adapted by Richard Murphy and Daniel Fuchs from a story by Edward Anhalt and Edna Anhalt. — Hal Erickson

Review from AMG:
One of director Elia Kazan’s favorite movies was this very dark tale about the bubonic plague invading New Orleans. Panic in the Streets featured a mesmerizing performance from Richard Widmark as the doctor called in to investigate a mysterious death who becomes entangled in a sinister plot. Shot in semi-documentary style by the masterful Kazan, the film applies top Hollywood production values to a bizarre original story for which Edward Anhalt and Edna Anhalt won a screenwriting Oscar. Kazan used many non-actors, shot the film entirely on location in New Orleans, and had many of the scenes done with improvised or partly improvised lines. The result is a gripping realism. Among the veterans in the lustrous cast are Barbara Bel Geddes, Zero Mostel, and Jack Palance. Kazan’s loose style with actors was innovative for 1950, and he would continue to hone his direction of “method” acting in the next several years with such films as A Streetcar Named Desire, On the Waterfront, and East of Eden. — Michael Betzold

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