Panic in the Streets (1950)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Filmed entirely on location in New Orleans, Panic in the Streets stars Richard Widmark as Dr. Clinton Reed, a physician from the U.S. Health Service who must race against time to stop a plague. The carrier was an illegal alien, murdered by criminals Jack Palance and Zero Mostel. When local officials note the strange condition of the corpse, they fear that the germs will spread to epidemic proportions, and thus summon Reed to wrest control of the situation. At first facing opposition from rule-bound police captain Paul Douglas, Widmark is finally able to work hand-in-glove with Douglas in tracking down Palance and Mostel, who have themselves become plague carriers. Many of the actors in Panic in the Streets are local nonprofessionals, selected by director Elia Kazan because of their "rightness" within the framework of the story; the rest of the cast is peopled by such film veterans as Barbara Bel Geddes, Tommy Cook, Emile Meyer and H.T. Tsiang. Widmark's son is played by an uncredited Tommy Rettig, four years before he starred on the Lassie TV series. Though Elia Kazan liked to claim that much of Panic in the Streets was improvised, there was a script, adapted by Richard Murphy and Daniel Fuchs from a story by Edward Anhalt and Edna Anhalt.
Classics , Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Twentieth Century Fox

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Richard Widmark
as Lt. Cmd. Clinton 'Clint' Reed M.D.
Paul Douglas
as Capt. Tom Warren
Jack Palance
as Blackie
Barbara Bel Geddes
as Nancy Reed
Zero Mostel
as Raymond Fitch
Dan Riss
as Neff
Alexis Minotis
as John Mefaris
Tommy Cook
as Vince Poldi
Lewis Charles
as Kochak
Ray Muller
as Dubin
Tommy Rettig
as Tommy Reed
Lenka Peterson
as Jeanette
Paul Hostetler
as Dr. Paul Gafney
George Ehmig
as Kleber
Leo Zinser
as Sgt. Phelps
Beverly C. Brown
as Dr. Mackey
William Dean
as Cortelyou
Rex Moad
as Wynant
Val Winter
as Commissioner Dan Quinn
Mary Liswood
as Angie Fitch
Aline Stevens
as Rita Mefaris
Stanley J. Reyes
as Redfield
Emile G. Meyer
as Capt. Beauclyde
Juan Villasana
as Hotel Proprietor
Robert Dorsen
as Coast Guard Lieutenant
Henry Mamet
as Anson
Arthur Tong
as Lascar Boy
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News & Interviews for Panic in the Streets

Critic Reviews for Panic in the Streets

All Critics (21) | Top Critics (3)

There is vivid action, nice human touches and some bizarre moments. Jack Palance gives a sharp performance.

Full Review… | November 1, 2007
Top Critic

A classy thriller, much less laden with significance than most Kazan movies.

June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

[The] best and most neglected of Elia Kazan's early features.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Superbly made look at scientists battling a contagious disease, with Widmark outstanding lead.

Full Review… | November 28, 2015
Classic Film and Television

Still tense today, more than 60 years after it was made

Full Review… | June 9, 2013
7M Pictures

A taut thriller with a poignant message, Panic in the Streets, which won the Oscar for Motion Picture Story, is well directed by Kazan and well acted by Richard Widmark, Jack Palance, Zero Mostell (just before he was blacklisted) and others.

Full Review… | February 14, 2011

Audience Reviews for Panic in the Streets


Not panic enough to entertain.

familiar stranger
familiar stranger

Super Reviewer

With such a great cast this could have been an great classic, but the movie has it's boring slow scenes, other than that I liked it. The story is exciting and the actors do their best.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


a medical thriller where widmark gets to play the hero for a change. he's a public health doctor racing the clock to prevent an outbreak of plague in new orleans. jack palance is a very effective villain in his film debut. good suspense

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer

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