No Way Out

No Way Out ★★★★

At the beginning of his career in Hollywood Richard Widmark specialised in playing some really nasty pieces of work (Kiss Of Death, Road House, Yellow Sky) but surely none more so than the racist, n-word dropping thug he plays here in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's contribution to the late '40's/early '50's cycle of 'social comment' pictures (e.g. Elia Kazan's Gentleman's Agreement and Edward Dmytryk's Crossfire).

This is a provocative thriller that is not only exciting in its own right but has some decent points to make on racial intolerance with a story concerning a petty thug who dies during a routine medical procedure, leading to his brother (nasty Mr. Widmark) laying the blame firmly at the door of the young black doctor in charge (Sidney Poitier in his movie debut) and getting his gangster pals to create a race riot in revenge.

Mankiewicz was on a roll at this point of his career: this picture was sandwiched inbetween his two double-Oscar winning triumphs (A Letter To Three Wives and All About Eve) and clearly demonstrates his gift for bringing a particular milieu alive on the screen - in this case the run down streets in which the racial hatred festers - as well as getting the best from his cast, which includes another actor making his debut, Ossie Davies, and Linda Darnell as the dead man's divorced wife.

An engrossing drama and one of the few movies made in the immediate post-World War II years dealing with the incendiary issue of race relations which still holds up well nearly seventy years later..

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