I have always loved Elia Kazan. Viva Zapata! and On The Waterfront are some of my favorite movies. Kazan has a very theatrical and stylized way of making movies, and so far, he has made some great ones.
Panic In The Streets is listed as a thriller. I was not as thrilled as I had hoped. A man is discovered dead in the waters of New Orleans. During the autopsy it is discovered he died of the bubonic plague. There is not much that the investigators know about him, and so they rush to find out as much as possible before the disease spreads and kills as many people as it can.
Richard Widmark does a good job as the doctor hot on the case. Barbara Bel Geddes is charming as usual as his wife, I only wish she had a bigger part. Jack Palance and Zero Mostel also deliver fine performances.
I like film noire movies; the suspense, the intrigue, the dame. However, Panic in the Streets disappointed on a few of these levels. It wasn't very suspenseful, I was less than intrigued and the dame only had one scene, and she wasn't even smoking a cigarette…
Also the title implies a "panic" will happen, at some point, "in the streets". I was expecting people running around, screaming their heads off. There was barely more than polite conversation while strolling down the road.
However, this remains an Elia Kazan movie, with a good cast. It is better than a lot of movies that are made today, but it left me yearning for real hardcore film noir, which this is not.