Kick-Back Friday: #124
I’ll forgo this week’s obvious recommendation: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009), which was just released on DVD. The movie is undeniably engaging. (What serial-killer tale isn’t?) But the story, at least as executed on film, simply isn’t good enough or clever enough or sufficiently well executed to justify or sustain several explicitly violent scenes and images, most of which are sexually brutal.
Instead this week’s KBF is Panic in the Streets (1950) from director Elia Kazan.
After an unidentified murder victim shows up in the coroner’s office with pneumonic plague, a government health officer (Richard Widmark) and a police captain (Paul Douglas) reluctantly pair up to thwart an epidemic. Their ultimate task: to find the victim’s killer (or killers), who might spread the disease or die of it.
Because this is an Elia Kazan joint, character dynamics approach the importance of plot, and several new actors—namely Walter Jack Palance, Zero Mostel, and Barbara Bel Geddes—get to flaunt their emotive talents.
One brief, callous and self-serving act in particular (which is perpetrated by Palance’s character) is all the more shocking and effective because the movie (unlike The Girl…) doesn’t repeatedly assault the viewer with technicolor carnage.