Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Panic in the Streets

There are a number of interesting disease movies (apart from zombie movies). I bumped into a reference to 'Panic in the streets' the other day and think I'll have to watch it again. It must be 30 years since I saw this on late night tv. Apparently the original title was 'Outbreak'

From Amazon's editorial review:

An amazingly effective film noir action movie, shot on location in New Orleans in 1950, that has twists of plot and explosions of violence that can still make audiences gasp. Elia Kazan, of all people, directed this story of a public health worker (Richard Widmark) and a police detective (Paul Douglas) who have only a few hours in which to capture some fleeing felons who may be infected with bubonic plague. The bad guys are played, with enormous relish, by Jack Palance and Zero Mostel, the latter only a few years before Kazan ratted him out to the House Un-American Activities Committee. In retrospect, this modest crime picture looks like a crucial turning point in the formation of Kazan's distinctive style, a clear precursor to the blistering location work of landmark films like On the Waterfront, Baby Doll, and America, America. --David Chute

From DVD verdict:

The trailer for Panic in the Streets promotes the film as an action/suspense thriller about preventing the spread of a nationwide biological epidemic. Reading between the lines, however, Panic in the Streets can be seen as an allegory about stopping the threat of Communism in the United States at the beginning of the Cold War.

and finally, from

The Moral of the Story Is?

Cooperating with authorities is shown as not only a civic duty, but as necessary to self-preservation, though there are officials who are more concerned about keeping the public ignorant than about keeping it safe, and even this imperative is muddied by the movie's siding with the heroes keeping a newspaperman from reporting what is going on.

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