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Gunman in the Streets

Gunman in the Streets(1950)

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Allday's "Pulp Cinema" series introduces a new title into its collection - Gunman in the Streets (1950), which was released in France as Le Traque and in Britain as Gangster at Bay. Directed by Frank Tuttle, this rarely seen film noir thriller stars Dane Clark as Eddie Roback, a wanted criminal who is trying to escape a police dragnet. His fate depends solely on his former mistress, Denise Vernon (Simone Signoret), who now has a new fiance and a new life. Will she refuse to be pulled back into a sadomasochistic relationship with Eddie or will she incriminate herself and help guide Eddie across the border to freedom? Since Denise is French, you can probably already guess the outcome. Like other Gallic noirs (Le Jour Se Leve (1939), Panique, 1946), Gunman in the Streets is imbued with a romantic fatalism that conjures up the image of 'Apache' dancers (once a staple of French cabaret floor shows), roughneck lovers who sling each other around the dance floor in an abusive frenzy.

Although modestly budgeted in comparison to Hollywood noirs of the same period, Gunman in the Streets has plenty to offer connoisseurs of the genre: the unique pairing of former Warner Brothers contract player Dane Clark and a very young Simone Signoret as the doomed lovers, evocative cinematography by Eugen Schufftan (he photographed George Franju's Eyes Without a Face (1959) and Robert Rossen's The Hustler, 1961), a catchy music score by Joe Hajos, and taut direction by Frank Tuttle, who had already helmed such impressive noir efforts as This Gun For Hire (1942) and Suspense (1946). Unfortunately, Tuttle's career was sidetracked during the McCarthy era when he was brought before the House Un-American Activities Committee as a star witness. After admitting his past membership in the Communist Party, Tuttle also informed on several of his Hollywood colleagues. While he wasn't officially blacklisted by the industry, he still found it hard to get work and Gunman in the Streets was made while Tuttle was in France, trying to initiate film projects.

Allday's DVD presentation of Gunman in the Streets, which was never released theatrically in the United States, is taken from the 35mm fine grain master negative but includes few extras. It does, however, feature footage that was previously deleted due to its violent nature. By today's standards, this material isn't very shocking but censors had a problem with it at the time; a closeup of an unconscious man, left to die sprawled face down on a gas stove, the removal of a bullet from Roback's arm, a climatic gun battle between the police and the fugitives. The DVD packaging includes material from the original pressbook and the poster art from the British release version which proclaims "Dillinger, Little Caesar, Scarface, Capone....and now...the thriller of all thrillers!" OK, so Eddie Roback isn't really in the same league as Dillinger and the rest of those notorious mobsters. He's still a tough customer. In fact, you have to wonder why a dame like Denise puts up with his constant threats, insults, and rough treatment. You almost WANT to see him get plugged. But then, did we mention that Denise is French? Enough said. For more information on Gunman in the Streets, visit the distributor's web site at ALL DAY ENTERTAINMENT.

By Jeff Stafford