Jan 15, 2011

The Killer That Stalked New York (1950)

In the late 1940's and early 1950's, many films noir were made with a pseudo-documentary approach, whose realism was heightened with a dry voiceover narration, and shot on authentic urban locations.  While this movie is not the best example of this style, it is an interesting mosaic.  The deceptive title does not refer to a psycho killer, but rather tells the story of a woman on the lam from the police, who unknowingly is carrying the smallpox epidemic.  This inferior B-movie cousin to Kazan's Panic In The Streets (released the same year) is ambitious in theory, if not scope. 

It is a very interesting concept to see Evelyn Keyes being trailed by both the police and the health organization (neither body is aware the other is also after her), and as such, this no-frills package instead spends time on exposition than characterization. Evelyn Keyes has had more impressive showcases in other noirs (see my reviews of 99 River Street and The Prowler), as she is given little to do but wander from one vignette to the next.  However, this little movie is engaging filler for a lazy Saturday afternoon.  B movie addicts will likely react to many familiar faces that appear throughout this busy mosaic (Dorothy Malone, Lola Albright, Harry Shannon).  Whit Bissell is most memorable, appearing as Keyes' estranged brother who briefly offers her shelter in his flophouse.

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