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20th Century Fox presents
The Street with No Name (1948)

"Nobody sees you in a city, do they, mister?"
- Robert Danker (Robert Patten)

Review By: Jeff Wilson   
Published: June 06, 2005

Stars: Mark Stevens, Richard Widmark
Other Stars: Lloyd Nolan
Director: William Keighley

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for violence
Run Time: 01h:31m:10s
Release Date: June 07, 2005
UPC: 024543173199
Genre: film noir


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-CC+ B

DVD Review

The seaminess of the modern city, circa 1948, and the efficiency of the FBI are the main points of note in this quality noir film. Given some of the things the FBI was up to at the time and through the 1960s, some might find this cinematic ode to their crime-fighting skills a bit off-putting, but there is a solid story to be had here. The documentary nature of the film begins with a teletype from none other than J. Edgar Hoover himself, telling us how America will be overrun with a new breed of organized criminal, unless citizens start being more alert and fighting back. The "street with no name" runs all through our land, you see, and crime is having a field day on it.

The setup is provided quickly: two murders in two different stick-up jobs in Century City (basically Los Angeles), both with the same gun. The first is a bit shocking; at a swank nightclub, a woman has a meltdown when the robbers bust in, and gets gunned down in cold blood when she starts to bolt. The second is unseen, though we see the body carted away. The crimes cause the FBI to become involved, and Inspector George Briggs (Lloyd Nolan, carrying over the character from The House on 92nd Street) begins to investigate. His first suspect, a young tough named Robert Danker (Robert Patten) turns out to have been framed, thanks to the FBI's in-depth analysis of the evidence. Briggs tries to speak with him again, but Danker gets rubbed out first. It becomes clear that another approach is needed. Briggs goes to the FBI Academy, and finds his man, Gene Cordell (Mark Stevens), a sharp-shooting, collected young agent. It will be Cordell's mission to go undercover and hook up with the gang that has been pulling the robberies.

Cordell, posing as repeat offender George Manly, insinuates himself into Century City's sleazier venues, winning notice when he slugs out a couple rounds with one of the boxers at the local gym. The gym is owned by Alex Stiles (Richard Widmark), who sizes up Cordell/Manly and invites him into the gang. Before Cordell and Briggs can bust them, they find out that a mole within the police department is passing along FBI files to Styles and tipping him off to police plans, something that will put Cordell in deep trouble.

Character is really secondary in this film, serving the needs of the story, which in turn needs to show how great the FBI was at busting crooks like Stiles. Briggs is a proto-Jack Webb type—all business, all the time. Cordell slides into his role as undercover agent well, but we never really learn anything about him. He just does his job, undone only by a bad break. Stiles is the most interesting character in the film. He tells Cordell how he runs his gang along scientific lines, putting to use what he learned in the armed forces during the war. His eventual downfall is already sealed, as his trigger-happy nature, rampant paranoia, and fear of germs and drafts mark him as a nut. The rest of Stile's gang are just faces, barely discernable from one another, at least in terms of what they do. Even the corrupt cop is given no real motivation beyond cold cash, and the revelation of who is it barely registers as meaningful.

Since the story is at the heart of the film, how does it hold up? Fairly well, though Cordell's joining of the guilty gang is down more to luck than anything else. The Street with No Name is an fairly involving tale that doesn't ask a whole lot of the viewer and works quite well for what it is. The photography and set design make up for a lot of this, as they underscore the desperate nature of the city and its tattered environment. Stiles's end, appropriately enough, comes in a factory: the man who wanted to run his gang scientifically dies amidst machinery.

Just a few years later, director Sam Fuller would take the general plotline of Street and reshape it into House of Bamboo, also released in this wave of Fox noir titles.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The source used for the transfer is fairly average-looking; some scenes appear more beat up than others, but the transfer as a whole is watchable. There is a lot of shadow and night based scenes, and they look okay in terms of the solidity of the blacks, though sometimes the print used exhibits some contrast streakiness.

Image Transfer Grade: C

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, Spanishyes
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Like the picture quality, the audio is not especially sparkling. It doesn't impede enjoyment of the film though. It's a typical mono track for a fairly obscure film.

Audio Transfer Grade: C+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 16 cues
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
4 Other Trailer(s) featuring Laura, Call Northside 777, Panic in the Streets, House of Bamboo
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Film scholars James Ursini and Alain Silver
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: As with their other noir releases, Fox has provided a quality commentary, this time from noir experts James Ursini and Alain Silver. If you've heard some of their other commentaries, you'll know what to expect here. Their mix of production information, interpretation and background material is solid as usual.

Trailers for four other Fox noir titles are available, as is the original theatrical trailer for Street with No Name. The trailer is worth watching if only for the footage it includes that is not used in the film. The quality is rough but watchable.

Extras Grade: B

 

Final Comments

A solid noir that is unlikely to blow anyone anyway, presented in a decent looking, if not stellar print. The disc appends an excellent commentary to make this an easy purchase for noir fans.

 


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