Side Street (1949)

Genres - Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Film Noir  |   Release Date - Mar 23, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 83 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

An overlooked little film noir gem, Side Street falls short of being a classic but is a small delight for fans of crime films, especially those with a pseudo-Hitchcockian touch to them. Side Street could benefit from a stronger screenplay; it gets a bit convoluted in places, and the motivations are occasionally a bit contrived. But the general situation is good, and the third person narration (unusual for noir, which prefers to be self-narrated by the protagonist) is used to very nice advantage. In the lead, Farley Granger is good, if not exceptional; he hits all the right buttons but doesn't press any that really surprise. Cathy O'Donnell is a bit bland (in an admittedly under-written role), but the supporting cast is aces, with Jean Hagen considerably more than that. Street's biggest assets, however, are its direction and cinematography, which play off of each other brilliantly. Anthony Mann's sure hand keeps the story taut and gripping, and Joseph Ruttenberg's camerawork is nothing short of stunning. Unlike many other examples of the genre, the cinematography doesn't emphasize expressionistic lighting. Instead, things start off on a perfectly normal note, and it is only as Granger begins to contemplate a crime that the photography begins to take on atmospheric tinges. The film climaxes with a marvelous and exciting car chase that utilizes overhead shots down narrow alleys to very good effect; indeed, this sequence alone is worth the price of admission.