Monday, February 10, 2014

Movie of the Week: No Way Out (Review)

No Way Out (1950) was the featured film for January 27th-February 3rd.

I had no idea that this movie would be as deep as it was, but I'm glad it was, and I'm glad I watched it.


Credits for the movie go as: Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell, Stephen McNally, and Sidney Poitier. In my opinion, credits for the movie should have gone as: Sidney Poitier, Richard Widmark, Linda Darnell, and Stephen McNally--in order of their characters' importance in the film. 

The Biddle brothers, shot while robbing a gas station, are taken to the prison ward of the County Hospital; Ray Biddle (Richard Widmark), a rabid racist, wants no treatment from black resident Dr. Luther Brooks (Sidney Poitier). When brother John (played by Dick Paxton) dies while Luther tries to save him, Ray is certain it's murder and becomes obsessed with vengeance. He convinces his estranged former sister-in-law, Edie (Linda Darnell) to spread the word about "Johnny's" death. Residents of their neighborhood, Beaver Canal, begin planning an attack on a black section of town ("N***ertown" as they call it), but little do they know, there's a passing black man in Beaver Canal--and he warns the black neighborhood.

(Written by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Lesser Samuels, and Philip Yordan)

For a film released in 1950, I expected this movie to be very safe. I especially expected the character of Ray Biddle to be this evil, rabid racist who suddenly becomes good and is forgiven for everything by the end of the movie. Nope.

Richard Widmark in Panic in the Streets

The tension was almost palpable. The ending was amazing. The whole thing was written very well and quite realistically. One must remember that No Way Out is also a film noir, so while the darkness was expected, like stated before, I was very much expecting the movie to be very safe. I certainly didn't expect to here the n-word every five seconds (They didn't even say it in Gone with the Wind! Heck, I don't even think they said it in The Birth of a Nation, but I may be getting ahead of myself on that one...not quite sure). 



Every actor did a stupendous job in this movie, including supporting actors like Mildred Joanne Smith (Cora Brooks, Luther's wife), Dots Johnson ("Lefty"--the elevator operator), Maude Simmons (Luther's mother), Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee (Luther's brother and sister-in-law), and Amanda Randolph (as maid to Dr. Wharton, played by Stephen McNally). 

Linda Darnell

No one gave a bad or even 'okay' performance. Everyone was awesome. Every character had depth--they all seemed to have a backstory (and might I add, backstories that we didn't even need to be said in detail). As said about the script, the characters were wonderfully written.

(Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz)

When it comes to cinematography, most movies in the Film Noir genre are the same--there's darkness; shadows. No Way Out was no different from any of these movies. It even played that smooth lounge music in a few scenes. There's crime; there's sexual references* . It's your typical Film Noir, only with an element that previous films in the genre rarely touched on (if any of them did)--racism. 


Without hesitation, I recommend No Way Out for your "must-see" movies list.

(to watch it on Youtube)

"Richard Widmark Salutes Sidney Poitier"(20th AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards)


*There is one scene in No Way Out that I found to be both shocking and brilliantly written (not even just for 1950): In the presence of Ray's deaf brother, George, Edie turns her radio up very loud--so loud that it makes the ceiling lamp shake. George looks up at the lamp and smiles mischievously. It took me awhile to catch on, but when I did, I literally "laughed-out-loud" at the genius of the moment. Just wanted to bring that up, lol.*


Unless noted otherwise, all photos were obtained from Wikipedia. They are being used for informational purposes only. If the rightful owner(s) of any of these photos wishes to have them removed, please contact me, and I will do so immediately. 


(Movie of the Week: February 3-10)

Princesse Tam Tam (1935)
(Movie of the Week: February 10-17)

1 comment:

  1. Great review!

    We're linking to your article for Ossie Davis Tuesday at

    Keep up the good work!


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