|The Killer That Stalked New York (1950)
Running Time: 79 Minutes
Dir. Earl McEvoy
Cast: . Evelyn Keyes, Charles Korwin, William Bishop, Dorothy Malone
Genre: Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller
Screening Time: Monday, July 24th at 8:40 p.m.
A woman (Keyes) returns to New York from Cuba with $40,000 in stolen diamonds, as well as something even worse—a deadly case of smallpox. Unaware of the severity of her illness, she goes on the run from a conniving husband and contagion spreads.
There must have been a sale on this storyline back in the 40’s. An epidemic threatens New York (it’s always New York) and nobody takes it seriously. Some might say that Richard Widmark and Jack Palance did it better in Panic in the Streets, but I disagree.
There is always something about these Poverty Row productions that really touch a nerve. The production values are never that polished and the acting is a little rough around the edges, but that is the very reason I think this movie and those like it are effective. Rough, grainy, edgy. And the cast. All 2nd stringers or A list actors past their prime. No egos here. These folks were happy to get the work. Whit Bissell, Carl Benton Reid, Jim Backus, Arthur Space, Charles Korvin, and the melodious voice of Reed Hadley flowing in the background like crude oil. By the way, I’ve been in the hospital a couple of times; how come my nurses never looked like Dorothy Malone? In these kind of movies they don’t bother much with make-up and hair, but they really managed to turn Evelyn Keyes into a hag. Or maybe they just skipped the make-up and hair altogether. Anyway, it was pretty effective. She plays a lovesick jewel smuggler who picks up a case of Small Pox in Cuba while smuggling jewels back for ultra-villain Charles Korvin (who is boffing her sister in the meantime). You got the Customs Agents looking for her because of the jewels, and the Health Department looking for her because she’s about to de-populate New York. No 4th Amendment rights here. Everybody gets hassled.
You gotta have the right attitude to enjoy a movie like this. I have a brother who scrutinizes movies to death. If they don’t hold up to his Orson Wellian standards, he bombs them unmercifully. They must have the directorial excellence of a David Lean movie, the score of Wolfgang von Korngold, the Sound and Art of Douglas Shearer and Cedric Gibbons respectively. This ain’t it.
But I have the right attitude, and if you do as well, you’ll love this movie.
From 1950 comes a neat thriller about a couple smuggling diamonds from abroad and also the contagious disease smallpox. Evelyn Keyes pulls out all stops as the essential victim of this film-noir. Once back in the United States she is not aware that she could be spreading the disease on everyone and everything she comes in contact with. Eventually she is pursued and must be stopped before an epidemic occurs. Other than Keyes striking performance there is good support from villainous Charles Korvin, William Bishop, Dorothy Malone, Lola Albright and Whit Bissell. The finale is a humdinger with Miss Keyes on the ledge of a building with spotlights and hundreds of spectators below. A good B flick!
This is a really dark movie. Noir indeed. The title character is smallpox, brought into New York City unknowingly by Evelyn Keyes.
She is on one mission when she arrives and on a rougher one after she's spoken to her no longer innocent sister. But she herself is not intentionally a killer. This doesn't mean she doesn't kill. It doesn't mean her presence somewhere among eight million other people doesn't throw the city into turmoil.
Keyes is excellent. The supporting cast is very good too. There are several little-known people involved in this — the director included. Don't be put off. It is a movie to be reckoned with! (And how nice to see a Columbia picture. Columbia and Republic turned out wonderful comedies and noirs; yet we hardly ever see them anymore.)
I caught this movie late at night on the Encore Mystery Channel. There was never a dull moment. The plot was plausible, the acting very good, and the photography great! I find it "amazing" how the scripts and dialogues were so often more intelligible back in the "good old days" of movies. There was not the incessant obscene and crude language that pervades most of today’s films. The pacing was right on and the ending suspenseful. I only wish I could purchase it. Oh, by the way, am I the only one bored by the never ending credits? They seem almost as long as the movie. Does anyone, besides mommy or daddy, really care who the movie’s caterer or grip was? With the above out of my system, if you get the chance, see this flick. It is a winner.