Granger is a postman married to the pregnant O'Donnell. He wants to give her some of life's better things but doesn't have the means for it. In desperation he steals an envelope stuffed with cash that he finds lying in an office on his mail route. What Granger doesn't know is that this
money is a blackmail payoff that is connected to some murders. Granger uses a portion of the money to enhance his lifestyle, but eventually guilt catches up with him and he tries to return the money. He takes it back to where he stole it from, but no one seems to know anything about the loot.
Granger gets frightened that this will lead to big trouble and tells O'Donnell that a sudden out-of-town job has cropped up and he must leave home temporarily. Granger checks into a flea-bag hotel for a hideout and gives the cash to a friend. The friend runs off with the money, though, and Granger
is then confronted by some gangsters. They're connected with the money's origin and want to know where the postman has hidden it. He escapes and takes refuge amid the underclasses of society, a lonely world of cheap nightclubs and gangster hangouts. Granger is accused of the original murders and
is chased by both the cops and the gangsters. The gangsters finally catch up with him and decide to kill him. But the police are on to them and in a high-speed chase through the streets of New York City eventually catch up with Granger and the mobsters. In a shoot-out Granger is hit, though not
fatally, and finally is reunited with O'Donnell.
SIDE STREET is a film of mixed quality. Granger and O'Donnell had co-starred in the fine picture THEY LIVE BY NIGHT (1949) and MGM thought the same team would once more create an equally compelling film. However the unfolding of this story is often dragged out and boring, with some poorly written
dialog. But what the film lacks in writing, it makes up in cinematic technique. Shooting on the streets of New York City, the director has a good eye for location (the chase sequence denouement is terrific) and includes some interesting high-angle shots that create a trapped effect. The
photography is probably the film's best point: unlike many film noir pieces, this chooses natural lighting instead of the usual expressionistic flares, and the style works well. Craig, as the gangster leader, is particularly vicious, working well in his against-type role. The snowballing plot has
some good moments (if only the dialog were better), and the cast handles the material with competence.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Granger is a postman married to the pregnant O'Donnell. He wants to give her some of life's better things but doesn't have the means for it. In desperation he steals an envelope stuffed with cash that he finds lying in an office on his mail route. What Gra… (more)