The Killer That Stalked New York (1950) 1080p

Movie Poster
The Killer That Stalked New York (1950) 1080p bluray - Movie Poster
Drama | Film-Noir
Frame Rate:
23.976 fps
English 2.0  
Run Time:
76 min
IMDB Rating:
6.4 / 10 
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Directors: Earl McEvoy [Director] ,

Movie Description:
Sheila Bennet returns to New York from Cuba carrying $40,000 worth of smuggled diamonds - and smallpox, which could start a devastating epidemic in the unprotected city. Treasury agent Johnson loses her but keeps doggedly on the trail; while Public Health doctor Wood searches in vain for the unknown person spreading the deadly disease far and wide. Meanwhile, the increasingly ill Sheila is concerned only with her faithless husband Matt, who plans to abscond with the diamonds.


  • The Killer That Stalked New York (1950) 1080p bluray - Movie Scene 1
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  • The Killer That Stalked New York (1950) 1080p bluray - Movie Scene 1

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A woman unwittingly carries smallpox into New York with the diamonds she's smuggled, thus setting off a frantic search for the source of an outbreak. It's an interesting premise, but unfortunately the acting and script are weak, and in muddling the crime and medical dramas, the film does poorly on each. In a strange way, about halfway in it also segues into what seems like a public service announcement for vaccinations. Hey I'm all for 'em and realize the mass vaccination was based on real events New York in 1947, but the jaunty narration that seems straight out of a newsreel just doesn't work here. This is one to skip.

A smallpox epidemic in Manhattan

This is a film about a smallpox epidemic in New York City, and the 'killer' is the disease. The title thus gives a false impression that this is a crime film. The film has a police-procedural mode of delivery, with a droning narrator, very much in the style of the FBI and police films of that time. The film is rather terrifying in what it depicts, and I would not hesitate to describe it as 'a scare film'. It was made in close cooperation with the federal government, and it has a hysterical 'reds under the beds' air about it, even though it is germs rather than reds who threaten the USA this time. The film was also released under the title FRIGHTENED CITY, and is based upon what must have been a pretty scary Colliers Magazine article by Milton Lehman (his only contribution to the cinema). The screenplay is by the former journalist Harry Essex, who two years previously scripted the Laurence Tierney film BODYGUARD (1948, see my review). Evelyn Keyes plays the lead, a woman named Sheila Bennett, who has just returned from Cuba ('which has no quarantine arrangement with the US', as a medical man complains in the film) carrying some smuggled diamonds and carrying something else as well, the disease smallpox. This is thus one of the early epidemic scare films, which were to become much more common many years later, such as OUTBREAK (1995) with Dustin Hoffman. In fact, it is the earliest epidemic scare film I can recall seeing, though I presume there must have been others. It must have been difficult to persuade many possible leading ladies to play Sheila Bennett, because she has to spend most of the film looking terrible as she gets worse and worse with the disease, which does not appeal to the vanity of most stars. It is very much to the credit of Evelyn Keyes that she was willing to do this and was not deterred by considerations of her 'image'. Evelyn was a very fascinating and pleasant person, highly intelligent. I knew her during the time she had her relationship with Jack Cushingham in London. I didn't see nearly enough of her, as I was keen to discuss things much more, and we did have some interesting chats about her former husbands John Huston and Artie Shaw. She talked about Artie a lot. I wish I could remember all those stories. Someone should have taped hours of interviews with her, because she was so well-informed and was never lost for words. She was very sophisticated and had seen it all and was prepared to say so. Anyone who survived marriage to John Huston had to have a strong character. She divorced Huston in February of the year this film came out. So maybe one reason why she looked so rough was because of that. After all, what is smallpox compared to being married to a sadist, for despite his buckets full of charm, he was dangerously disturbed. And speaking of Jack Cushingham (1919-1985), his IMDb credits are seriously deficient. THE EXTRAORDINARY SEAMAN (1969), of which he was co-producer (it was by the way a terrible failure of a film), and QUACKSER FORTUNE HAS A COUSIN IN THE BRONX (1970), of which he was producer (a project concerning which I gave him not inconsiderable assistance), are not listed, because no one at IMDb has figured out that Jack Cushingham is in fact the same person as John S. Cushingham, for whom those two films are listed. The two entries need to be amalgamated into one. As someone who knew Jack very well many years ago, I feel I owe it to him to point this out for the historical record. Before being involved with Evelyn, Jack told me he had an affair with Joan Collins, and from time to time he would phone her and have long and friendly chats, even though they were no longer involved. He said what a wonderfully warm, friendly, and open person she was, and that she always liked to remain permanent friends with all the men who had ever been in her life. I was with him a couple of times when he phoned her, which was interesting, as they certainly were warm and friendly conversations, I can vouch for that. The fact that both Joan Collins and Evelyn Keyes found Jack interesting says a lot. For, as I said, Evelyn Keyes was really something, one of the strong women of Hollywood. As for this film, where she struggles with a deadly disease, I have a certain sympathy for people who survive epidemic diseases, for I once got cholera in China, though not in an epidemic, and I was only saved by less than two hours. (Once symptoms commence you only have between ten and twelve hours to live if not treated with massive rehydration and potassium. They had to inject 32 kilos of saline into me while they stuffed potassium pills in my mouth and injected potassium into the saline, which by the way makes your veins burn on the inside as if they are on fire, just in case you are interested.) My advice: stay at home, sleep in a plastic bubble, never go out, speak to no one, and don't use someone else's chopsticks. And just in case you think 'it can't happen to me', try watching this film. (On the subject of smallpox, the doctors informed my mother that she and I had inherited an immunity to it, as our many attempts to get vaccinated never 'took' and we never got scars on our arms like everybody else did. So I suppose some ancestor made it through a smallpox epidemic centuries ago and we inherited the antibodies. Strange but true. Maybe I should leave my blood to science.) If you watch this, don't eat popcorn, because you might choke.

The Killer That Stalked New York. Its name? Sheila Bennet!

The Killer That Stalked New York (AKA: Frightened City) is directed by Earl McEvoy and adapted to screenplay by Harry Essex from a story by Milton Lehman. It stars Evelyn Keyes, Charles Korvin, William Bishop, Dorothy Malone and Lola Albright. Music is by Hans Salter and cinematography by Joseph Biroc.

As the Police search for a diamond smuggler flown in from Cuba, doctors frantically trawl through an unprotected New York for a smallpox carrier, unaware that it is in fact the same person.

The Blonde Death!

Based on a real life incident the year previously, The Killer That Stalked New York is a very efficient thriller that has earned the right to be viewed now on its own terms. Comparisons are inevitably drawn with Panic in the Streets, the Elia Kazan film from the same year that deals in the same premise as here, but don't let anybody try and convince you otherwise, McEvoy's movie isn't in the same class. There is a reason Columbia Pictures delayed the release of "Killer" for six months. That said...

It's a tautly constructed movie by McEvoy, decently performed by the cast (Keyes especially impressive carrying the film) and the documentary like approach to the piece works very much in its favour; even if Reed Hadley's stentorian narration is rather intrusive to the escalating drama. Bonus as well comes from having Biroc on photography duties, it's not so much about chiaroscuro techniques, in fact we don't really see the best noir visuals until the last fifteen minutes, but more about dripping a foreboding atmosphere over the New York City locales. As poor Sheila stumbles through the city, her alienation and disorientation is deftly brought out of the screen by the one time Oscar winner (The Towering Inferno).

The race against time medical aspects of the drama hold the attention span well, we are constantly wondering who is going to succumb to "the blonde death" next? Though this core theme of the picture comes at the cost of narrative intrigue elsewhere, for instance there's infidelity in the mix involving our leading lady, but it barely registers and poor Lola Albright, playing a character of much potential, gets shunted out the way to be replaced by some more medical peril announced by Hadley's public service voice! As efficient as the film is, and it's easily recommended to the noir crowd, much more could have been made of this story.

B picture by name, B picture by nature, but hugely enjoyable in that sweaty time filling way. 6.5/10
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