|My buddy Kelly Greene and I watched THE STREET WITH NO NAME (1948) the other day. It's a tight and terrific little film noir that is better than it has to be. |
A crime wave in Center City has turned vicious. A woman is shot down in a nightclub robbery while a guard is gunned down following a bank heist. Something must be done to stop these robbers turned killers. FBI agent Lloyd Nolan recruits new agent Mark Stevens to go undercover and infiltrate the gang led by Richard Widmark at his evil best. The gang is using "scientific" methods to plan and commit their crimes and it's up to the F.B.I. to combat them with state-of-the-art technology of its' own.
Stevens slowly but surely wins the trust of Widmark and the gang but a major heist gets called off at the last second due to a tip off from inside the police force. It seems there's also a corrupt police officer to be dealt with in addition to the gang. The suspense ratchets into high gear in the third act when Steven's true identity is discovered, which leads to a tense showdown in an abandoned factory.
On-location photography adds greatly to the mood and atmosphere of this semi-documentary style crime film. It is a direct follow up to another 20th Century Fox film noir, THE HOUSE ON 92ND STREET (1945) (which I have yet to watch) and STREET has plot elements that echo HE WALKED BY NIGHT (1948) and WHITE HEAT (1949). One big plus is the absence of a musical score throughout the film. Alfred Newman contributes music during the opening credits and at the end of the film but the rest of the movie is scoreless. There are several wonderfully staged scenes with no dialogue in which only the natural sounds of the big city at night are heard. Everything feels real and the film offers a great snapshot of postwar urban life.
Director William Keighley keeps the focus on the story at all times. There's no romantic subplot to get in the way and slow things down and there's no comic relief. This is serious business. The supporting cast includes Barbara Lawrence, John McIntire and Ed Begley. THE STREET WITH NO NAME is a winner in my book. Highly recommended.