No Way Out - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

No Way Out Reviews

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March 20, 2016
I had wanted to watch this film for years, glad I finally did as it's quite good. Richard Widmark and Sidney Poitier(in his screen debut) star in this racially charged noir film from 1950. It also features early performances from legendary couple Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee. This one is highly recommended!
½ December 13, 2014
richard widmark successfully being that annoying racist evil here :)
½ January 9, 2014
Strong racial drama still packs a punch--hard-hitting and provocative for its time!!
December 20, 2013
Although it felt contrived, the story did have powerful ideas that were made to fight racism. The black doctor fighting to save the white criminal, the white woman overcoming her hatred to in the end preserve it, and truth overcoming falsehoods. These make it a good film.
April 8, 2013
Thought provoking piece of film noir...
February 14, 2013
Underrated and overlooked film. A dark, intense film noir with an interesting look at racism in the time period. Very under-appreciated. Poitier makes for a good lead in the film and Widmark steals the show.
January 19, 2013
While not an essential addition to Fox's sterling line of film noir titles, No Way Out is still an important footnote in the history of Hollywood's portrayals of racism. Unlike Crash.
July 30, 2012
Way before Mississippi Burning and Do the Right Thing displayed an accurate version of the prejudice that young black people were facing in America, this underrated film noir from 1950 captured all that there was to see about the ways in which racial behaviour was expressed. Boasting thoroughly convincing performances from Richard Widmark as the sickening racist and Sidney Poitier as the innocent doctor caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time, this uncomforting drama succeeds not only as a compelling film-noir but also as a drama of such importance for its use of showing the story from both the white and black characters' perspectives as well as its accurate representation of one of civilization's most unfortunate propositions.
July 24, 2012
Before He Came to Dinner

Probably one of the hardest things an actor can do is portray a character even the actor agrees is totally loathsome. There's only so far you can go in cleaning up offensive language before your character no longer has the emotional impact necessary. Even if you would never say those words as yourself, you have to say them in order for your character to ring true. And apparently, Richard Widmark apologized to Sidney Poitier between takes, because they were friends, and he couldn't stand saying such awful, awful things to his friend over and over all day. However, the power of the film would be diminished if he didn't, and both men knew it. It's also true that there is a desirability to playing loathsome characters. Bette Davis knew it, which is why she chose the role she did in [i]Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?[/i] Joan Crawford didn't, which is why she couldn't understand why Bette Davis got so much attention for the role. After all, Bette was playing [i]the bad girl[/i]!

Poitier here is Dr. Luther Brooks, who is just starting his residency at County Hospital. In, you know, some county or another. He is the first black doctor ever to do his residency there, and he starts out working in the prison ward. Two brothers are brought in--Ray (Widmark) and Johnny (Dick Paxton) Biddle. They were in the process of committing a small-time robbery, and both men were shot in the leg. Luther realizes there is something seriously wrong with Johnny, more wrong than his simple gunshot wound. He is in the process of doing a spinal tap to confirm his suspicious when Johnny dies. Ray accuses Luther of murder. Whatever state they are in does not require an autopsy in such cases, and they need the family's permission. (More on this anon.) Ray won't give it, and so Luther is working under a cloud. Luther and his boss, Dr. Dan Wharton (Stephen McNally), discover that Johnny had listed a wife on earlier hospital records as a next-of-kin. They seek her out; she divorced Johnny, and she is now living as Miss Edie Johnson (Linda Darnell). Can she persuade Ray and help avert the terrible race violence waiting to break out?

Seriously--if there's an accusation of murder, what kind of state wouldn't require an autopsy? Luther eventually applies the clever plot of turning himself in, because having a suspect in custody [i]does[/i] require an autopsy, but that whole aspect of the plot doesn't make any sense to me. I suppose that Ray subconsciously must have believed Luther to be innocent, because if he didn't, why wouldn't he leap at the opportunity to [i]prove[/i] that it was murder and get Luther locked up? The only way the autopsy could be expected to go against what he believed was if he was wrong, and Ray does not strike me as the kind of person plagued by conscious doubt about much of anything. He also strikes me as the sort of person inclined toward showing everyone exactly how right he was. Leaving aside that the state's law doesn't make any sense, Ray's decision makes even less sense. He says that Johnny suffered enough without being cut up, but it doesn't ring true.

Of course, without it, we don't have a reason for Linda Darnell to come sauntering through the story. She has to be the Girl From the Wrong Side of the Tracks; Edie Johnson grew up next door to the Biddles and needs to be the one who understands them. She even speaks sign language, because the third Biddle brother, George (Harry Bellaver), is a deaf-mute, I guess because it's how they make certain other scenes work. She is indeed lovely, and her emotional journey gives the movie a little more depth than it might otherwise have had, but her character really makes the least sense. I totally believe in the hospital administrator who is proud of himself for admitting an actual Negro as a resident (Stanley Ridges, I guess). Really, I find most of the characters themselves totally believable. However, the way the movie puts them into the situations they're in does not completely work for me.

Watching this movie without seeing any of the publicity information about it would lead you to believe that Sidney Poitier should have had top billing. There are two reasons he did not. The first was that this was his feature film debut. He was an uncredited extra in a crowd scene, he was in a documentary short, and I've read that there were some shorts for the US Army Signal Corps. However, leaving that aside, this is really the first film to introduce Sidney Poitier to the general population. The other, alas, is that Sidney Poitier was black. Despite the fact that the film is about how blacks are people, too, and despite that this film also showed Luther's home life (Ossie Davis's film debut, in fact, as his brother--and the first of many times he played opposite his real-life wife, Ruby Dee), it's a simple fact that it was even harder then than now for a black lead to sell a film to general audiences. Without Sidney Poitier, however, it would have taken even longer before that was possible.
½ August 18, 2011
Awesome movie! When racist criminal Ray (Widmark) and his brother (Paxton) are admitted to a hospital after gun shot wounds from an attempted bank robbery, things dont go so good. Their doctor, Luther Brooks (Poitier) is black, and Ray takes an instant dislike to him. When Rays brother dies suddenly, Ray thinks that Brooks murdered him, sending drama throughout the city. No Way Out is just great-- and marked the film debut for legend Sidney Poitier at age 23. Joseph L. Mankiewicz certainly did a wonderful job screenwriting as well as directing, and its surprising to think he made his first movie only 4 years prior to this one. Every performance is great, and even though Widmark most definitely did the best job, that doesnt matter. It seemed like every actor put their body and soul into their performance. Fun Fact: This was Linda Darnells favorite movie she made. Besides the above-average acting, this movie is chalked full of film noir elements, and the stunning, shadowy black and white cinematography reflects the dark atmosphere perfectly. No Way Out is incredible, and Im sure youll like it as well.
½ August 3, 2011
It did its job. I get it: racism is bad. It's important that Sidney Poitier broke barriers, paved the way for black actors and made movie audiences face their prejudices, but seeing him play an Oreo character in many of his movies throughout the 50s and 60s gets rather tiresome. His acting skills are not in question; he should have been able to get some juicier roles. I may just be burned out on his inoffensive, hatred-shouldering character-type who always turns the other cheek. Richard Widmark does excellent work injecting a vein of venomous hatred into his typical crime roles. I wish there was more of him in the movie. It's photographed alright, but methinks Joseph Mankiewicz was more preoccupied with his masterpiece from the same year, All About Eve. The execution of the plot is rather crude and ham-handed. The movie doesn't shy away from tackling the racism topic, but it doesn't gracefully handle the material either. The finale would have had more impact if Widmark's character could have acted on his bigotry by doing in Dr. Poitier. On the other hand, that may have just made the movie's message even more obvious.
½ June 29, 2011
Mankiewicz was only a few months away from sweeping the Oscars for "All About Eve", but at the time this scathing race film had just as much buzz, but not nearly enough fun. Widmark gets top billing, toning down his usual noir villain psychopath for a more anguished, schizophrenic paranoid racist, with an impossibly young Sidney Poitier making his debut as a rookie doctor enduring Widmark's insults. That Widmark was a sweetheart in real life, endlessly apologetic for the on screen insults, makes his performance that much more realistic and effective.
Super Reviewer
February 26, 2011
Richard Widmark is a "Negro-Hater" who blames Sidney Poitier for his brother's death. Intense but stylized social commentary featuring a rather nice performance by Miss Linda Darnell.
February 25, 2011
A still powerful race-conflict melodrama
½ January 26, 2011
Contrived plot is carried by good performances. A little heavy-handed at times; of the "oh, I get it, racism is bad" variety. Be prepared to hear the N-word more often than in an N.W.A. song.
January 21, 2011
There is know other way to put it...This film is fantastic. I've always loved this movie through the years. Now for those of you who haven't seen this film, be warned. The "RACIAL" content is very heavy. So please be aware of that fact...Njoy the film.
January 1, 2011
Sidney Poitier's debut is arguably the strongest rookie acting effort of our current roster of living legends. It's difficult to fully understand how controversial this story was for it's time--black doctor treats white racist--but it strives to deliver its message bluntly. Ultimately, there may be better examples in this genre ("In The Heat Of The Night") some even starring Mr. Poitier. 4/15/9
December 15, 2010
Thought provoking piece of film noir...
December 12, 2010
Patience and love twist the tourniquet that stems the bleeding, that silences the bigot.
Super Reviewer
October 26, 2010
A really good movie, it's both a serious drama focused on racism and the medical profession, and an exciting thriller with criminals. Poitier and Widmark give great performances.
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