Mystery Street

In the late forties/early fifties, MGM produced a string of low-budget crime melodramas which were really B-films on A-budgets compared to rival noir films coming out of Eagle-Lion, Columbia, Warners, and RKO. Generally overlookd by critics and historians in search of buried noir treasures, these films may have been second-line MGM releases at the time, but seen today they are rich in all the dark thematic qualities of true noir melodramas - at the same time benefiting from superior casting and production values. We have already “rediscovered” a number of these lesser MGM releases - Fred Zinnemann's Act of Violence (1948), Anthony Mann's Border Incident (1949) and Side Street (1950) - and intend to investigate such titles as Curtis Bernhardt's High Wall (1947), Gerald Mayer's Dial 1119 (1950) and The Sellout (1951), Richard Thorpe's The Unknown Man (1951), David Bradley's Talk About A Stranger (1952), and Joseph H. Lewis' Cry of the Hunted (1953) in future programs. Mystery Street was expertly directed by John Sturges, and was partly filmed in and around Boston for semi-documentary authenticity. Ricardo Montalban stars as a police detective investigating the murder of a “lady of the night” known to socialize with members of the Cape Cod/Harvard blueblood set. A superb supporting cast - led by Elsa Lanchester in the role of a gin-swigging, blackmailing landlady - enhances the suspenseful narration. And of course there is the outstanding black-and-white cinematography of John Alton.

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