Saturday, March 17, 2018

The Street with No Name

The Street with No Name (William Keighley, 1948) Another of the odd docu-dramas Filmed in the real locations (but not better actors) that studio 20th Century Fox made in the 1940's with the FBI's full co-operation. As with the earlier example, The House on 92nd StreetLloyd Nolan once again plays FBI inspector George Briggs who hires a new agent recruit to infiltrate a violent gangster racket run by one Alec Stiles (Richard Widmark, a year after tearing up the screen in Kiss of Death). Mark Stevens plays the mole, George Cordell, while a young John McIntire (wait a minute, he looks old in this one, too!) is his chief contact with the Feds. The Stiles gang is high on fashion, but low on smarts with the exception of Stiles, who's big on intricately worked out by-the-book schemes, secret rooms inside warehouses and likes to do a lot of whining about his gang, his moll, and probably the government, too, if he actually paid taxes. He takes a personal interest in Cordell (working under the alias of George Manley) and personally hires him as part of his mob.
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 ClementineCall 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 have the full co-operation of the FBI until James Stewart starred in The FBI Story in 1959, and, of course the TV series "The F.B.I." starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jnr.
Well...almost. The script for The Street with No Name ended up being recycled for another, better film for Fox, which we'll talk about next week. 

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