Side Street is a film noir from 1949, directed by Anthony Mann based on a story and a screenplay by Sydney Boehm. This stars Farley Granger as our protagonist and Cathy O’Donnell as his pregnant wife.
This story is confusing and full of plot holes but a fun noir to watch. This film starts with a women blackmailing some important business man. A guy behind a door has a gun to make sure this goes down like it is supposed to. We then find this girl floating in the water, dead! Granger is working as a part-time mail carrier(because a full-time mail carrier would be too honest to do this?) He delivers mail to a lawyer’s office and finds a sign which says “out for 15 minutes and will be back soon”. Granger finds the door is accidentally left unlocked. He goes in the office and tries to open a filling cabinet, it is locked. So he leaves, sees an ax for firefighting and brings it back to open the cabinet. He grabs a file, puts into his bag, not looking at it, and takes off. Now a voice over for the film is telling us our mail carrier has 50 cents in his pocket and would or wouldn’t you in that situation steal a few hundred dollars? There ends up being $30,000 in the file. This is where you have to start suspending your rational thinking! Why would a lawyer with $30,000 in his office not lock the door? But that is not the biggest questions here! How or why does Garager know that in the second drawer down, the last file in the cabinet has any money in it at all? He grabs it without looking in the file and without looking in any other drawer or file? Why does he think there is a few hundred dollars in it and not more, or any for that matter? Anyway he dumps the file, goes to his parent-in-laws where him and his wife now live, because they have lost everything in a failed business and are starting over. His wife is pregnant and due anytime now. He gives her some cash and says she can now get a real doctor and a room at the hospital to have her baby. He tells her, he got a new job up north and a pay advance and has to leave right away to start work. He gives the cash to a friend telling him it is a present for his wife and needs to hide it with him so she doesn’t find it. So as the plot thickens our hero has the police, a lawyer and some murdering blackmailers all looking for him while he runs through the streets of New York City to give the money back to its rightful owner and figure out the mystery on his own.
So this synopsis is just part of the suspend disbelief you need to enjoy this film. If you do I think you will enjoy the ride. It is stylishly filmed and even though you don’t always know quite what is going on and why, it is a fun watch. We also get a few cameo appearances worth seeing. Jean Hagen plays a lounge singer, who is our closest thing to a femme fatale in this film. Charles McGraw plays a small part as a deep voiced hard-nosed cop. Also Paul Kelly as our police captain is very good.
I think most film noir fans will find this film enjoyable, I did. Sometimes life doesn’t make sense so why should a classic film noir?