A slightly below-average vengeance melodrama, 13 West Street is a precursor of later vigilante pictures such as Death Wish. It's also the next-to-last film for Alan Ladd, who at this point in his career was pretty much just going through the motions. Certainly that's the case here; Ladd's performance is distressingly dispirited. He's playing a man driven by anger, but what Ladd gives us is the appearance of anger; he looks far older than his actual age, and he simply seems tired. He tries to pull out the stops for some of his big scenes, but it's effort-filled and unconvincing. Rod Steiger is better as the policeman that is trying to do his job, but it's not the actors' best performance. The younger members of the cats have energy and vitality, and that goes along way here. Dolores Dorn is only adequate as Ladd's wife. Philip Leacock's direction is efficient but uninteresting. There are a few interesting ideas tossed about in West's screenplay, but not enough to raise the film into the "good" category.
by Craig Butler review