|NO WAY OUT (director/writer: Joseph L. Mankiewicz; screenwriter: Lesser Samuels; cinematographer: Milton Krasner; editor: Barbara McLean; music: Alfred Newman; cast: Richard Widmark (Ray Biddle), Linda Darnell (Edie Johnson), Stephen McNally (Dr. Dan Wharton), Sidney Poitier (Dr. Luther Brooks), Mildred Joanne Smith (Cora Brooks), Harry Bellaver (George Biddle), Dick Paxton (Johnny Biddle), Ossie Davis (John), Ruby Dee (Connie), Stanley Ridges (Dr. Sam Moreland), Amanda Randolph (Gladys); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating:NR; producer: Darryl F. Zanuck; Twentieth Century-Fox; 1950)|
|"The pic that launched the career
by Dennis Schwartz
The pic that launched the career of
Poitier. Director Joseph
L. Mankiewicz ("All About
Eve"/"Cleopatra"/"Guys and Dolls") is co-writer with Lesser
Samuels, who based
the narrative on his white doctor son-in-law's
experiences observing black doctors. This
so-called progressive drama about racism seems more
like an exploitation film that thrives on shock--an
hysterical race riot-- and in a contrived way promotes
a loaded sociological study of racism.
Luther Brooks (Sidney Poitier) is an African-American
intern in a municipal hospital who is assigned to the
prison ward. There he treats two white racist
brothers, Ray and Johnny Biddle (Richard Widmark &
Dick Paxton), wounded in a foiled gas station robbery.
Under Brooks' supervision, Johnny dies and the
snarling racist Ray accuses the black doctor of
killing him. Ray refuses an autopsy to clear matters.
Thereby the investigation for the cause of death is
halted. As a result tensions build between the races.
Black racists enter the fray when they hear of a
possible attack by whites on their so-called
"niggertown" and attack the poor whites in Beaver
Canal. When Dr. Brooks goes heroic to get an autopsy
to find the truth, saying he killed his patient, any
remaining drama is put under the scalpel.
The social conscious film about blind racism
that caused a stir in 1950 as something not seen
before in films, despite being so hokey and
anti-literate at least presented racism in stark frank
terms for a rare time on the Big Screen and brought
black actors into starring roles where they are not
Other cast members include Stephen McNally as the supportive to Dr. Brooks' chief medical resident, Linda Darnell as the conflicted divorced wife of Johnny and Ray's current girlfriend who can't deal with his bigotry anymore and Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee as the embattled doctor's relatives.
REVIEWED ON 9/1/2013 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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