DVD Review HTF REVIEW: FOX Film Noir - Panic In The Streets

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Michael Osadciw, Mar 15, 2005.

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  1. Michael Osadciw

    Michael Osadciw Screenwriter

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    FOX FILM NOIR 03
    [​IMG]

    PANIC IN THE STREETS





    Studio: 20th Century Fox
    Film Year: 1950

    U.S. Rating: NR

    Film Length: 96 minutes
    Genre: Drama/Thriller

    Aspect Ratio:[*] 1.33:1
    Colour/B&W: B&W

    Audio:[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono[*] English Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo[*] Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
    Subtitles: English, Spanish
    Closed Captioned: Yes
    SLP: US $14.98






    Release Date: March 15, 2005



    Film Rating: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Starring: Richard Widmark (Lt. Com. Dr. Clinton Reed), Paul Douglas (Capt. Tom Warren), Barbara Bel Geddes (Nancy Reed), Jack Palance (Blackie), Zero Mostel (Raymond Fitch), Guy Thomajan (Poldi)

    Directed by: Elia Kazan


    Watch Out!!



    Panic in the Streets is the last title in the first wave of Fox Film Noir DVDs. There is a killer loose in the streets, one that is so deadly it may be impossible for anyone to escape. But this time it is no man; it is something far greater. The pneumonic plague has found its way into the slums of New Orleans.

    Known as “The Black Death” (because of the black spots that formed on the skin of infected people), this plague killed 25 million Europeans over a period of five years! One third of Europe’s population was decimated by the disease from the years 1347-1352. The disease was carried over from China by Italian merchants who had plague as they got off their ships. It was transferred by fleas from the rats that tended to run around in impoverished areas. Europe had no cure, people died alone. In one day people could be eating lunch with their friends and dinner with their ancestors in paradise (Boccaccio). The disease spread quickly and the results were fatal quickly. People fled the cities and left the sick to die alone and rot without burial. It was a very dark time for the ages.

    Our story of Panic in the Streets follows a Doctor of the U.S.A. Public Health Service who is trying to track down the killers of a dead immigrant man. Why is this dead man important to a health inspector? The man was found dead not only from a gunshot wound, but would have died from the plague. Dr. Reed’s goal is to find everyone who has been in contact with this man and inoculate them. He is also determined to find out how this man landed in the USA and find the plagued ship that brought him here. The police are reluctant to help because they don’t think all of this can be done in a 48 hour window.

    One way to find out this information is to print the dead man’s picture in the press. But Dr. Reed does not want the press to find out either. It’s a double edge sword should the story get out. If the public were to know that the plague is beginning to take the lives of everyone, there would be widespread panic. The killers would flee the city and spread the disease to the rest of the country causing massive casualties. On the other hand, the inspectors and the police will be branded as deceivers to the public by not informing people to stay indoors and report incidents of those who are coming down with the high fever and painful swelling of the lymph glands.

    Widespread death is catching up to the inspector because time is running out. Will he be able to find the rat infested source of the plague and will he catch the men running loose as possible carriers before they spread it to the country?

    There is some great acting in this film by Richard Widmark who takes on a forceful mission to help the potentially fatal situation. The film is quickly paced to give the feeling of urgency and confusion. You get the feeling as if their mission is almost impossible.

    Having briefly worked as a chemical emergency responder (and rarely biological), I can say that safety concerns and body-substance isolation procedures for plague seem very lax in this movie. I can only imagine why disease was so widespread in the past. I guess no one really knew the extent of contagions on those giving aid to the infected. Yikes…


    VIDEO QUALITY
    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    I gave this film a four and a half start rating based on comparing this with the other Fox Noir titles available. This is definitely the best looking of the first three noir titles. While it may have slightly less resolution than Laura, the image looks so smooth and lacks major artefacts that were more abundant in Call Northside 777. There is a few dirt specks throughout the film, but they are very small and not always noticeable. If those were removed the results would be stellar. Like the other titles viewed at 5400K, white levels never looked clipped and black levels were pretty good, although not quite as deep as the other two titles. While this lets us see into the darker parts of the picture a little more, it takes away from the striking contrast that was present in the other two films.


    AUDIO QUALITY [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Like the video, the audio is the cleanest sounding of the three titles. There is very little in terms of background noise and throughout this engaging film I never noticed and major artefacts popping out in the audio either. This is also a dialogue driven film with sound effects because music rarely appears. The audio doesn’t sound tinny on this Dolby Digital 2.0 mono recording but thins up a bit on the 2.0 stereo recording. Like the other two films, the stereo audio is more diffuse than directional. I recommend listening to the mono soundtrack. The DVD jacket incorrectly labels the mono soundtrack as Dolby Digital 1.0 mono.


    SPECIAL FEATURES [​IMG] [​IMG] / [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    The two special features on this disc are a commentary from authors and historians James Ursini and Alain Silver who also appear on Call Northside 777. They go through the film scene by scene in detail and talk a little more about things behind the scenes. I did find it a little more interesting than their commentary on Call Northside 777.

    We also get to see the theatrical trailer which looks pretty good in terms of video quality. I always get a little laugh from watching older trailers; I find them quite amusing the way they present the film to the audience. They always try to be dramatic but I find the humorous.

    Lastly, there are trailers of other Fox Film Noir titles including the upcoming releases of House of Bamboo and The Street With No Name.


    IN THE END…

    Completing the first wave of Fox Film Noir, Panic in the Streets delivers. It has excellent A/V quality and it’s a very engaging film that I enjoyed immensely. If you are picking up the other two titles, I highly recommend you splurge and pick up this title too.

    Michael Osadciw
    05.03.15
     
  2. Damin J Toell

    Damin J Toell Producer

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    I saw a short interview with Jack Palance concerning his role in the film (his first feature film role) recently on the Fox Movie Channel. He remembers the film and the cast and crew fondly, but he says he never watches his films.

    DJ
     
  3. Jeff_HR

    Jeff_HR Producer

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    I can retire my LD when this DVD arrives in a couple of days. Too bad they don't make them like this these days. Nice review.
     
  4. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    After watching the dvd a second time with the commentary, I have to agree that the video presentation is even better than "Laura" and "Call Northside 777". I think the acting in this film was very special. The movie being shot on location in New Orleans is something you don't see much in films today.




    Crawdaddy
     
  5. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Jeff brings up an interesting point – at least as it relates to noir. They couldn’t make them like this these days – regardless of the budget.

    One thing that sets noir apart from most other films and genres/movements is the reliance of the times and the set period. Aside from the characteristics that could be changed or manipulated (camera angles, flashbacks, voice over narrations, lighting, femme fatales, set decorations or even the plot etc.), the one thing that money or anyone’s talent couldn’t change is the mood or the atmosphere of the film – due the circumstances that existed at the time.

    Perhaps the best example of any film made within the last 35 years would be Chinatown – a film I love dearly (one of my favorites) and one I see often enough classified as noir. However (and at least for me), when I see Jake Gittes driving around downtown Los Angeles circa 1940’s, I can’t help but think everything is staged – his clothes, his car, the sets, the streets – for me it’s a distraction – at least if I’m looking at it from a noir perspective. If I’m looking at it from a crime/drama perspective, then it’s marvelous.

    When Mitchum or Bogart or O’Keefe, or Ryan put on their fedoras or overcoats and lit a match striking it on the side of a table or a wall, these were just natural acts and authentic clothing of the time. Many of these films were produced either at the height of World War II or just after it’s conclusion and the universal feeling of the general public was that of anxiety, pessimism, bleakness, suspicion, and general fear of nuclear war, which could never be replicated in this day and age – characteristics that are an absolute necessity for any film noir.

    It just makes me appreciate the classics of the period that much more with the hope that eventually, many more will be released by Fox and WB.

    Great review of a great film, Mike. Thanks.
     
  6. dave bula

    dave bula Stunt Coordinator

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    I think that it could be recaptured these days if some filmmaker was really dedicated to doing so, and had a thorough enough understanding of what makes a good noir film. However, I think that Herb has hit upon perhaps the most signficant reason why modern attempts at noir filmmaking usually seem to come up a bit short. The atmosphere and mood is absolutely critical.

    Many filmmakers and film enthusiasts tend to focus on other aspects common in noirs, but overlook the atmospheric quality. As good as Chinatown and L.A. Confidential were, and I too admire both films a great deal, neither one quite captures that elusive mood.

    To me, the best modern noir film would have to be Body Heat. Yes, like Chinatown and LAC it was filmed in color, but it was deliberately made in true film noir style. The use of light and shadow was superb. The writing was right out of 1948 in style, as was the acting. And perhaps most importantly, John Barry's score was perfect. Talk about setting up mood and atmosphere !!

    Yes, noir films have been done outside of the 1940-1960 era. And, yes, they can be done in color. But if it will ever be done again, it won't be by accident.
     
  7. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

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    Well I bought all 3 Fox noir films, Laura since we got a screening of the first 10 minutes at Fox for the HTF Meet.

    and the other two were on sale($9.99 at WOW store)
    and I figured with how glorious Laura looked, I couldn't go wrong.

    Hope I like Panic and 777
     
  8. dave bula

    dave bula Stunt Coordinator

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    I found a package containing all 3 of the first group of Fox Film Noirs at Costco for only $17.99. Sure can't beat that !!
     
  9. Lars Vermundsberget

    Lars Vermundsberget Supporting Actor

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    All three of them together cost me a bit over $30 shipped to me here in Northern Europe - not bad.
     
  10. Herb Kane

    Herb Kane Screenwriter

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    Just out of curiosity, for the folks that picked these up at Costco... did they come in a box proper - or were they just packaged as a bundle of 3...? What a great deal!
     
  11. John Hodson

    John Hodson Producer

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    Herb; from the DVD Talk forum:

    "No, it's just the three individual releases packaged in an old-fashion long box (like most of Costco's new-release DVDs.) And for you "resellers", each disc is separately wrapped, but the UPCs are covered with factory "Not for Sale Separately"-type stickers."
     
  12. TravisR

    TravisR Studio Mogul

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    I don't know if it's like this on all copies but on the Film Noir set I purcahsed at Costco, the 'Not For Resale' is on the outside plastic and peels off very easily.
     
  13. BarryM

    BarryM Stunt Coordinator

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    Golly...am I glad to finally get this drop-dead classic late 1940's film on DVD.

    I fell in love with this when I saw it on TV about 15 years ago. What an amazing freeze-frame of the sleazier aspects of New Orleans, circa 1949.

    And...to top it off....in my opinion, the opening theme music by Alfred Newman is just about the most exciting piece of theme music I've ever heard.
     

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