CITY OF FEAR (director: Irving Lerner; screenwriters: Steven Ritch/Robert Dillon; cinematographer: Lucien Ballard; editor: Robert Lawrence; music: Jerry Goldsmith; cast: Vince Edwards (Vince Ryker), John Archer (Lt. Mark Richards), Steven Ritch (Dr. John Wallace), Patricia Blair (June Marlowe), Kelly Thordsen (Johnson), Lyle Talbot (Chief Jensen), Cathy Browne (Jeanne), Joe Mell (Eddie Crown), Sherwood Price (Pete Hallon); Runtime: 75; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Leo Chooluck; Columbia Pictures; 1959)
“A lively police procedural film.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This low-budget standard thriller by director Irving Lerner (“Murder by Contract”) makes for a good watch. After dangerous convict Vince Ryker stabs two guards and a physician at the San Quentin prison, he and a fellow prisoner steal the prison ambulance to make their escape. The other prisoner soon keels over and mysteriously dies. Vince switches vehicles and disguises himself with glasses, hoping to pass for a traveling salesman. He picks up a hitchhiking sailor. They’re somehow able to pass a police roadblock into Los Angeles. In the city, Vince checks into a motel. Meanwhile, LAPD Chief Jensen (Lyle Talbot) and Lt. Mark Richards (John Archer) are concerned about a metal cylinder that Vince stole from the prison hospital. Vince thinks that the canister is filled with heroin, it actually contains enough radioactive cobalt to destroy the city. The remainder of the film is an intense manhunt for Vince, who thinks the white powder in the canister is his ticket to a million dollars and will not let go of it even though getting increasingly ill. Patricia Blair plays Vince’s loyal girlfriend, who thinks she’s doing her man a favor by not cooperating with the police.
The terse script by Steven Ritch and Robert Dillon made for a lively police procedural film. It also features a snazzy jazz score by Jerry Goldsmith, who is just getting started in scoring films.
REVIEWED ON 7/3/2007 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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