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City of Fear 1959
Description: An escaped convict gets a keep of some radioactive material after his escape. Authorities desperately test to search the boy that unknowingly is threating the lives of everyone in the city.
Released: 01 Feb 1959 Director: Irving Lerner Writers: Steven Ritch, Robert Dillon Actors: Vince Edwards, Lyle Talbot, John Archer, Steven Ritch Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Trailers and related videos:

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City of Fear Reviews:

A tawdry weak budget pot boiler featuring dynamite performances by Vince Edwards and a similarly minigame helping cast. I know Edwards is probably most popular for his heroic Ben Casey role, but he sure chewed up a lot of upholstery in films like this one and MURDER BY CONTRACT the year before. A lot of the charm comes in watching this police procedural unfold. Lots of seedy weak lives generally hold up the off color flavor and the suspense builds nicely over the course of time.Some of the discussion of radioactivity is dated, but the cannister makes a nice macguffin for the gruff talking' square-jawed Boys of Law to pursue. It really wouldn't have taken much to raise this from a guilty pleasure and enjoyable cautionary tale to something along the lines of KISS ME DEADLY, but it's almost more quaint to see this mostly forgotten and obscure b-movie in its under-appreciated show form, if you can search it. The last shot of the film is quite a hoot! Fine, jazzy musical score by a then-very young Jerry Goldsmith.


It's not a classic by any means. But it has its virtues - the black and white cinematography, the nice jazzy soundtrack by Jerry Goldsmith, and particularly the extensive on-location shooting in and around Los Angeles. There are lots of scenes of 1950s vehicles cruising the street, shop fronts and interiors - more than average, because they're looking for the protagonist. Living in LA, I especially enjoyed that. As for the plot, I've seen three or four related plotted stories the last year - someone is contagious and threatens the city, or is carrying something radioactive, etc. This one had a slightly less plausible plot line, since the police weren't particularly protective. But I soaked up the ancillary elements - the acting was passable, the camera-work and lighting were above average - and I'm a sucker for the '50s.


This is a gritty low-budget thriller that reminded me of Panic In The Roads but with a faster pace and a no-frills b-movie tone. I'd consider it a lost classic in that I saw it once on a local TV station about 30 years ago and have been looking for it on TV or video ever since to no avail. The primary premise of a deadly tiny canister of radiological waste deserves other look in this day of weapons of mass destruction (another situation of science fiction predicting the future). The deterioration of the unwitting thief as the radiation poisoning consumes him is macabre and compelling.



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