Cast & Crew
Shots suddenly ring out in the bustling streets of Paris as gangsters attack a police van carrying notorious American criminal Eddy Roback to court. Eddy escapes, and Dufrense, a police inspector, receives word that he has been spotted at a department store. The police close the department store and begin evacuating the customers, but Eddy picks up a small child and flees the store undetected, leaving the child with a guard. He then goes to meet with his old associates, but arrives just as Dufrense and his men are raiding the hideout. That evening, Dufrense calls on Denise Vernon, Eddy's mistress, but she tells him she has a new lover, American newspaper correspondent Frank Clinton. He accompanies Denise to the restaurant where she is to meet Frank, and stations policemen at the entrance. Shortly after arriving, Denise tells Frank she must visit a sick friend, and sneaks out the service exit, then takes a cab to the gang's hideout and picks Eddy up. Eddy, who has a bullet in his arm from the morning's shootout, tells Denise he needs a large sum of money in order to escape over the Belgian border before daylight. They go to the apartment of their old acquaintance, Max Salva, who reluctantly takes Eddy in. After trying in vain to obtain the money Eddy needs, Denise rejoins Frank at the restaurant, and Dufrense comes in and subtly lets her know he is aware that Eddy has been in contact with her. Later, Frank tells Denise he knows she is seeing Eddy again and gives her most of the money she needs. Frank declares his love and warns that Eddy is just using her, but Denise protests that Eddy really needs her. Frank insists on driving her to meet Eddy, and after Denise has gone inside Max's apartment, Frank comes to the door with the rest of the money. Seeing Max as a possible informant, Dufrense has a policeman slip a note under his door, and after reading it, Eddy shoots Max and forces Frank to drive Denise and him over the border. After they leave, the badly injured Max crawls to the phone and calls the police, and when Dufrense arrives, Max tells him everything. Meanwhile, the fog grows heavy, and Eddy insists on taking the wheel. He crashes the car into a tree, but no one is injured, and they travel the last couple of miles on foot. After crossing the border, they go to a warehouse, where Eddy's gang is waiting, and Eddy instructs his men to put Frank on a train back to Paris. Frank urges Denise to come with him, but she tearfully refuses. She does not respond to Eddy's romantic overtures, however, causing him to fly into a rage and throw her out. Denise flees, but when she sees the police assembling in town, she runs back to warn Eddy. The hideout is soon surrounded, and a fierce shootout ensues between the police and Eddy's heavily armed men. Denise is struck by a bullet, and dies just moments after hearing the departing train's whistle. Eddy and his men are killed, and as Dufrense solemnly surveys the carnage, he pronounces the case closed.
Jack Palmer White
Gunman in the Streets
Shot in location in Paris in 1950 on a low budget with an international cast and crew (Russian and French producers, American director and star, French cast, German cinematographer, and screenwriters from all over), Gunman in the Streets stars Dane Clark as Eddy Robak, a different kind of American in Paris. The film opens with Eddy making a daring daylight escape from police custody and follows his efforts to elude the police dragnet over the long night. The cops have all of his haunts staked out, in particular his former lover Denise Vernon (Simone Signoret), loyal to the brutal Eddy even under police surveillance, but this is a love on the dark side.
Eddy is the classic American gangster psychopath, brutal and hot-tempered man, as we see in the opening minutes when he kicks a cop in the teeth during his escape (a shocking scene for the era that was censored in some countries), and jealous of any man who shows an interest in Denise, or worse, any man she shows the slightest affection for. Denise, meanwhile, is the classic elegant dame, cultured and cool on the outside but toughened up by the life she endured along the way. Her loyalty suggests more of a resignation to the inevitable than any desire left for this brazen criminal, but it is loyalty just the same. Which is why Paris Police Commissioner Dufresne (Fernand Gravey) makes a point of keeping her in his sights.
This isn't the glamorous Paris of the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triumph, or the romantic bridges crossing the Seine. This is the nocturnal world of non-descript nightclubs, crummy apartments, and dark side streets, with an escape in the fog that ends up in a nearly abandoned industrial park. And forget the criminal code seen in continental crime films from Pépé le Moko (1937) and Rififi (1955) to Le Doulos (1962) and Le Circle Rouge (1970). This is the rage-filled criminal of American gangster pictures by way of the post-war psychology of film noir and a world where informants would rat him out in a second.
Brooklyn-born Dane Clark may have had some understanding of his character's roots. Born Bernard Zanville, he was a product of the American Depression, a college graduate with a law degree who turned to boxing, construction, modeling, and finally acting to get by. He followed his friend John Garfield from the New York stage to Hollywood and though he never found Garfield's stardom, he made a name for himself as an intense, serious actor in such films as Action in the North Atlantic (1943) and Moonrise (1948) and remained in demand on television until his retirement in the late 1980s.
Simone Signoret was a rising star in French cinema when she made Gunman in the Streets. Her English is superb in Gunman in the Streets and she was sought out by Hollywood along with Yves Montand, then her lover and soon to be her husband, until her social activism branded her as a Communist during the heated hysteria of the Red Scare in America. She remained in Europe, where she co-starred in Max Ophuls' La Ronde (1950) and went on to take the lead in Jacques Becker's Casque d'Or (1952) and Henri-Georges Clouzot's Les Diaboliques (1955), the films that cemented her international reputation.
Cinematography was by the great Eugen Shüfftan, a film pioneer who developed the Shüfftan process (a special effect that uses mirrors to combine two different images) and photographed such legendary films as People on Sunday (1930), Marcel Carne's Port of Shadows (1938), George Franju's Eyes Without a Face (1960), and The Hustler (1961), for which he won a long-deserved Academy Award. He also worked uncredited on low budget American films by fellow German émigrés Edgar Ulmer and Douglas Sirk in the 1940s, which prepared him for the production of Gunman in the Streets. The budgetary constraints are apparent in the newsreel footage and library shots cut into some of the film's chase and back projection in the many shots of driving through Paris streets and winding country roads, but Shüfftan brings a sharp eye for location shooting and a style that makes this very much a French film noir.
Hollywood veteran Frank Tuttle began directing in the silent era and his career spanned many genres. His crime movie credentials include directing William Powell in a couple of Philo Vance mysteries and George Raft in the 1935 The Glass Key, and helping make Alan Ladd a star in the film noir classic This Gun for Hire (1942). But his career was stalled in Hollywood as the House Committee on Un-American Activities began its investigations in the film industry. Tuttle had been a member of the Communist Party and was active in social causes through the 1930s. That was enough to end his career in the late 1940s. Gunman in the Streets was his first directorial credit since 1946. He returned to the U.S. soon after, agreeing to name names to get back into the industry.
The French language version of the film (credited to director Borys Lewin) was released in Paris in December, 1950, under the title Le Traque. In 1951 the English language version was released in Britain under the title Gunman in the Streets and in Canada as Gangster at Bay, in both cases with a few particularly brutal moments edited out by censors, but it never received a proper theatrical release in the United States. The film was finally retitled Time Running Out and sold to TV syndication beginning in 1963. According to All Day Entertainment, which resurrected and restored the film, it made its American theatrical premiere at a screening at Anthology Film Archives in New York City in 2001, fifty years after its Paris debut, with the censored shots restored.
By Sean Axmaker
Gunman in the Streets DVD notes. All Day Entertainment, 2002.
Tender Comrades: A Backstory of the Hollywood Blacklist, Patrick McGilligan with Paul Buhle. St. Martin's Griffin, 1997.
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be, Simone Signoret. Harper and Row, 1978.
Gunman in the Streets
Gunman in the Streets (aka Time Running Out) - GUNMAN IN THE STREETS - A FORGOTTEN FILM NOIR GEM
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
Gunman in the Streets (aka Time Running Out) - GUNMAN IN THE STREETS - A FORGOTTEN FILM NOIR GEM
The working title of this film was It Happened in France. Although the opening credits indicate that Victor Pahlen and Sascha Gordine copyrighted the film in 1950, the title is not included in copyright records. Presenter Rudolph Monter's name was misspelled "Rudolf" in the onscreen credits. According to a May 21, 1950 article in New York Times, production was interrupted for a month when Frank Latimore, who was originally cast in the role of "Frank Clinton," became ill. Pre-production news items in Hollywood Reporter included Viviane Romance in the cast, but her appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. The film was shot on location in Paris. The New York Times reported that the presence of American actors Dane Clark and Robert Duke created controversy within the French cinema unions, and as a compromise, the producers shot the film in both English and French. The French version of the film, Le Traqué, was directed by Boris Lewin. A modern source adds the following actors to the cast of the French-language version: Frédéric Bart, François Joux, Philippe Janvier, Teddy Bilis, Cadex, Jean-Paul Moulinot and the assistant director of the English-language version of the film, Rodolphe Marcilly (who is listed in the onscreen credits by his last name only). It is possible that some of these actors appeared only in the French-language version. The modern source also lists the running time of the French-language version as 92 minutes.