99 River Street | Chicago Reader

99 River Street

83 minutes

John Payne as an ex-prizefighter pursued for the murder of his unfaithful wife (Peggie Castle); an aspiring actress (Evelyn Keyes) comes to his aid. Phil Karlson directed this low-budget independent film noir in 1953, and it's an example of the kind of humble brilliance that often emerged from the American genre cinema. Karlson's career-long fixation on revenge (which culminated with the commercial success of Walking Tall) here receives an unusually philosophical treatment: Payne's search for his wife's killers will become his vindication for a lifetime of disappointment and defeat. Though Karlson is among the most insistently physical of action directors, he also gives a sensitive treatment to the film's strikingly abstract subtheme of theater and performance. With Brad Dexter and Frank Faylen.

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