Monday, November 11, 2013


Between the title, the city streets locale, the shadowy visual style, and the femme fatale at the center of the action, one might expect this to be an average film noir, but it's actually more like a medical drama in disguise. Hard-boiled blonde Evelyn Keyes (pictured) arrives at Grand Central Station, nervous, sweaty, and feeling sick, and trailed by two feds who suspect she's smuggling jewels from Cuba. She is, having already dropped them in the mail to her small-time hood husband (Charles Korvin), who is having an affair with her slutty sister (Lola Albright). But she's also unknowingly carrying smallpox. Anyone who's been vaccinated is safe, but if she has close contact with anyone unprotected, they are susceptible to the disease, which can cause death. Keyes goes to a doctor (William Bishop) who diagnoses her as having the flu, but later when smallpox cases start popping up around the city, Bishop remembers Keyes and soon both the law and the city health department are on her trail. The crime plot is right out of film noir, but it takes a back seat to the smallpox story; the unsavory trio of Keyes, Korvin and Albright deserve more screen time, but generally this is a decent thriller that feels a bit like a TV show, including some over-the-top Dragnet-like narration now and then. The cast is serviceable and there are some recognizable character actors such as Dorothy Malone, Connie Gilchrist, Whit Bissell, and Jim Backus. A little something different. [DVD]

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