Thursday, November 26, 2015

Side Street

Anthony Mann's Side Street opens with the narration of police officer Walter Anderson (Paul Kelly), talking about the many lives within the confines of New York City. He muses how the vast city's inhabitants will pass each other by without a second thought, how they carry on with their routine lives. Then we're introduced to Joe Norson (Farley Granger).

With his wife expecting, Joe is tightly strapped for cash. (His part-time job as a mail carrier isn't helping much.) During one of his routes, he steals what he thinks is $200 from a lawyer's office. He then finds out he actually stole $30,000. What follows has Joe ensnared with criminals and murder.

Like any good film noir, the city plays just as big a part as any of the actors. And it's all crisply captured by Joseph Ruttenberg, who was certainly no slouch when it came to his job. (He didn't get four Oscars and six additional nominations for nothing.) The hustle and bustle of this restless town is keenly shot by his and Mann's watchful eyes. God, to live in that world...

Granger, far from an unfamiliar face to films of a criminal nature (Rope, They Live by Night, Strangers on a Train), is great here. With his frantic dark eyes, he captures Joe's tense disposition. Surely Granger must've known how others might see the film even if he didn't think much of it. (From his autobiography: "For its time, Side Street was a good-looking, well-made film that was not able to rise above the banality of its story.")

Side Street is a really, really damn good noir, one that for some reason hasn't earned the recognition it deserves. (Then again, this could apply to most of Granger's filmography outside of his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock.) So be sure to find this and watch it.

My Rating: *****

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