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City of Fear (1959)

City of Fear (1959)

Vince EdwardsLyle TalbotJohn ArcherSteven Ritch
Irving Lerner


City of Fear (1959) is a English movie. Irving Lerner has directed this movie. Vince Edwards,Lyle Talbot,John Archer,Steven Ritch are the starring of this movie. It was released in 1959. City of Fear (1959) is considered one of the best Crime,Drama,Thriller movie in India and around the world.

Vicious drug dealer Vince Ryker escapes from San Quentin with another prisoner after stabbing a guard to death and stealing what he believes to be a cannister filled with experimental heroin from the prison hospital. In reality the container is filled with cobalt-60, a highly radioactive substance which threatens the entire city if it is somehow opened. The ruthless Ryker dumps his dying cellmate and murders a bypassing motorist, burning his body beyond recognition. Assuming a new identity, Ryker heads for Los Angeles to become reunited with his beautiful girlfriend and Crown, a corrupt businessman and front man for Ryker's drug business. Fully aware of the potential dangers of the situation, the authorities are engaged in race against time to recover the cannister and avoid citywide panic.


City of Fear (1959) Reviews

  • Taut Atomic Noir


    A tawdry low budget pot boiler featuring dynamite performances by Vince Edwards and a similarly game supporting cast. I know Edwards is probably most famous for his heroic Ben Casey role, but he sure chewed up a lot of upholstery in movies like this one and MURDER BY CONTRACT the year before. A lot of the charm comes in watching this police procedural unfold. Lots of seedy low lives generally keep up the off color flavor and the suspense builds nicely over the course of time. Some of the discussion of radioactivity is dated, but the cannister makes a great macguffin for the gruff talking' square-jawed Men of Law to pursue. It really wouldn't have taken much to raise this from a guilty pleasure and enjoyable cautionary tale to something along the lines of KISS ME DEADLY, but it's almost more quaint to see this mostly forgotten and obscure b-movie in its under-appreciated present form, if you can find it. The last shot of the movie is quite a hoot! Fine, jazzy musical score by a then-very young Jerry Goldsmith.

  • Great Los Angeles on-location cinematography and '50s cars


    It's not a classic by any means. But it has its virtues - the black and white cinematography, the great jazzy soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith, and particularly the extensive on-location shooting in and around Los Angeles. There are lots of scenes of 1950s cars cruising the street, store fronts and interiors - more than average, because they're looking for the protagonist. Living in LA, I especially enjoyed that. As for the plot, I've seen three or four similar plotted stories the last year - someone is contagious and threatens the city, or is carrying something radioactive, etc. This one had a slightly less plausible plot line, since the police weren't particularly protective. But I soaked up the ancillary elements - the acting was passable, the camera-work and lighting were above average - and I'm a sucker for the '50s.

  • quick moving suspense thriller


    This is a gritty low-budget thriller that reminded me of Panic In The Streets but with a faster pace and a no-frills b-movie tone. I'd consider it a lost classic in that I saw it once on a local TV station about 30 years ago and have been looking for it on TV or video ever since to no avail. The basic premise of a deadly little canister of radiological waste deserves another look in this day of weapons of mass destruction (another case of science fiction predicting the future). The deterioration of the unwitting thief as the radiation poisoning consumes him is macabre and compelling.

  • Let's Make LA Really Glow!


    In 1958, director Irving Lerner scraped together enough money to make two poverty row features that Columbia released. The first, Murder By Contract, is one of the fine sleeper classics of low-budget film-making, Vince Edwards as a professional hit-man.. By virtue of that film, Andrew Sarris includes a paragraph on Lerner in his seminal book on film directors and auteur theory, American Cinema. Unfortunately, the second film doesn't measure up to the first. Still, City of Fear has its moments, particularly in the hand-held location shots that lend some much needed pacing. And that's a key problem with this thriller-- it stalls whenever the scenes shift to the offices where Archer and Talbot as police officials add little energy needed to rev up the chase. Thus we get a kind of jerky effect that can't sustain the story momentum. And a good story premise it is, as the authorities try to track down Edwards before he can loose a big dose of radio-active cobalt on LA. In my book, Edwards was an interesting actor at this early stage, a genuinely commanding presence in a lot of better-than-average B-films. There's also the under-rated Kathie Browne who could be a pixie one minute and a hellion the next (though her part here is small). Steven Ritch too, is an interestingly obscure figure, collaborating on a number of B-level scripts as well as acting in them. And what guy could pass up a chance at the really luscious Patricia Blair-- move over Marilyn! Anyway, it looks like Sarris was right-- Lerner was a one-shot wonder. Nonetheless, he manages a few neat tricks on display here. All things considered, this minor thriller is still worth a look-see, even 50 years later.

  • Possible germ warfare in Los Angeles...and Ben Casey in his undershirt


    Pulpy, wildly overwrought, but entertaining co-feature from Columbia has a pre-"Ben Casey" Vince Edwards starring as a convict who breaks out of San Quentin with a container he thinks is "a pound of 100% snow", but instead of heroin it's actually radioactive Cobalt 60 and any exposure could decimate Los Angeles. Not a compact thriller (even at 75 minutes!), this suspense film is full of behind-the-wheel montages and bits of generic police business. Edwards smolders like a reckless mad-dog stud, yet when he's required to disguise himself as a businessman with glasses, he's adept and convincing at this transition. The other actors in the cast aren't as versatile, and the mechanical writing and directing certainly doesn't liven them up (they're all stock figures, though Vince's girlfriend does get in a few funny wisecracks down at the police station). Photographed by Lucien Ballard, the movie has a great, gritty look full of L.A.'s neighborhoods and back streets, and the tension does manage to build successfully even though just about everything in the picture is second-rate. **1/2 from ****


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