died yesterday—he was 93
, and I didn`t know he was still alive. His first memorable role was as the psychotic killer Tommy Udo in Kiss Of Death,
who commits a shocking murder while laughing like a maniac.
But another movie he made probably couldn`t be made today. It was called Panic In The Streets,
(1950) and he starred as Dr. Clint Reed, a uniformed officer
of the United States Public Health Service
Here`s the plot:
One night in the New Orleans slums, vicious hoodlum Blackie and his friends kill an illegal immigrant who won too much in a card game. Next morning, Dr. Clint Reed of the Public Health Service confirms the dead man had pneumonic plague. To prevent a catastrophic epidemic, Clint must find and inoculate the killers and their associates, with the reluctant aid of police captain Tom Warren, despite official skepticism, and in total secrecy, lest panic empty the city. Can a doctor turn detective? He has 48 hours to try.
ThatÂ movie couldn`t be made today,Â even though the infectiousÂ illegal immigrant is the victim.Â It is considered officially hateful
to suggest that immigrants carry disease, although since the US is approximately the richest, cleanest, and healthiest country in the world, it only makes logical sense the outsiders aren`t as healthy as Americans.
Nowadays, movies about disease tend to blame the US Government
it, spreading it,
or covering it up
—just like Jeremiah Wright