For this edition Shadows of Film Noir, it's time for Phil Karlson's tough 99 River Street, produced by United Artists in 1953. It will be playing in a new print on Saturday, May 15 at San Francisco's Roxie Cinema. The film is not available on DVD, but for those not lucky enough to see it on the big screen, it is at least available streaming on Hulu.
Behind the Scenes
Director Phil Karlson was born in Chicago in 1908, the son of an Irish stage actress. He attended law school in Los Angeles, and began working in the movie industry as a prop man. He moved up to assistant director and began making his own films in the 1940s. Despite directing one notable, early Marilyn Monroe film, he did not make a mark until the 1950s, with a series of very tough, violent film noirs. This run eventually ended, and he went on to make Elvis Presley and Dean Martin films, and his career culminated with his biggest hit, the drive-in classic Walking Tall (1973). Critics and historians never really agree on Karlson's masterpiece, but discussions usually come down to a trio of noirs, Kansas City Confidential (1952), 99 River Street (1953) and The Phenix City Story (1955). Kansas City Confidential is widely available in the public domain, but an official MGM/UA DVD was released in 2007. The Phenix City Story is much harder to find. Karlson died in 1985.