Wednesday, October 31, 2012
The Street with No Name (1948)
The Street with No Name was made by 20th Century-Fox in 1948, with William Keighley in the director’s chair.
The theme is the rise of a new style of gangsterism in the post-war period and the FBI’s battle to contain this threat. Two violent robberies end in murder and the FBI laboratory confirms that the bullets in both cases came from the same gun. It is clear that a dangerous gang is at work and the FBI assigns one of its top operatives to the case - Inspector George Briggs (Lloyd Nolan).
Special Agent Gene Cordell (Mark Stevens) is sent undercover to infiltrate the gang. He will pose as a criminal drifter (using the alias George Manly) with a profile almost identical to Danker’s and will hang around the same sleazy pool rooms and other haunts that Danker was known to have frequented. With luck the gang will try to recruit him.
Now Cordell has to get the goods on Alec Stiles before Stiles gets the goods on him, the latter possibility being a very real one since it is now obvious that Stiles has someone in the city’s police department in his pocket feeding him information.
And then there’s Richard Widmark. In his early career he made something of a specialty of playing psycho killers. In his first attempt in Kiss of Death in 1947 he overdid things a bit and his performance came dangerously close to caricature. But Widmark was a quick learner and by the time he made The Street with No Name he had learnt that toning it down a little and being a little less obvious could actually make his performances far more chilling. In this movie the violent psychopathic craziness is still there, but you can see it bubbling away underneath the confident façade rather than being all on the surface. It’s an extremely effective performance.
This is not a great movie but it’s extremely well made and very enjoyable, the sort of high-quality mid-range entertainment that the studio system at its best could produce in quantity.
The Region 4 DVD is sadly lacking in extras but it looks great.