Wednesday, September 27, 2017
Film Noir: The Street With No Name
This 1948 film features Mark Stevens as Cordell, an agent sent into a city to find and infiltrate a criminal gang run by Stiles, played by Richard Widmark.
With the help of a phony criminal record, Cordell edges his way into the gang.The gangsters have been so successful, Cordell learns, because Stiles has a crooked cop on his payroll providing all sorts of valuable information. As Cordell closes in on Stiles and his contact, the contact and Stiles become suspicious of him. All this leads to a tense climax with Stiles setting up Cordell to be killed.
A decade earlier, a conclusion like that would have had no suspense at all. But “The Street With No Name” was made in the post-WWII, film-noir era, when anything could happen, including the death of the hero
Of the sub-genres of film noir, “The Street With No Name” would fall into the category of docu-noir. Much of the film was shot on location, giving the picture and extra gritty feel. The dark, shadowy look of the film is courtesy of cameraman Joe MacDonald.
Veteran Hollywood director William Keighley, kept the whole thing moving at a rapid pace that never let up. Sometimes, the tempo and the jaunty acting of the gang had the slick, fast-paced feel of a 1930s Warner Bros. movie. Not a bad thing, very entertaining, but not really in keeping with the tension of film noir. This is a minor quibble considering Keighley cranked out many films at Warners in the ‘30s.
Also featured in “The Street With No Name” were Lloyd Nolan as Cordell’s FBI superior, John McIntire as another agent on the case, Ed Begley as a senior police official, and Barbara Lawrence in the thankless role of Stiles’ wife, who spends all her scenes being abused verbally and physically.
(For more posts on film and television, check out Todd Mason’s blog.)