Panic in the Streets at The Belcourt 

The Big Uneasy

The Big Uneasy
Elia Kazan may have shot 1951’s A Streetcar Named Desire mostly on studio sets, but for this nifty, underrated thriller made a year earlier he shot right on the streets of New Orleans. The result is a grimy and unusually persuasive noir, with dogged health investigator Richard Widmark and cop Paul Douglas pursuing the Patient Zero who could turn the Big Easy into a plague zone. Noir suited Kazan’s all-caps emotional pitch and exaggerated visuals down to a doomed man’s looming shadow on a railroad-jungle wall: Truth be told, I’d rather watch this again than On the Waterfront, but that’s just a Widmark fanatic’s prejudice. Watch for Jack Palance (as skeletal and stylized as a Dick Tracy villain) in his film debut and Zero Mostel. The movie screens as part of The Belcourt’s monthlong Kazan retrospective.
Nov. 14-16, 2009

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