Columbia (Film Noir)
“The Killer That Stalked New York,” directed by Earl McEvoy, based on Harry Essex’s scenario, from a Cosmopolitan magazine article, “Smallpox; The Killer That Stalked New York,” by Milton Lehman, belongs to a cycle of noir films dealing with the dangers of foreign contamination, in this case Cuba.
After helping to smuggle diamonds into the country from Cuba and getting burned by her husband Matt (Charles Korvin) and her own sister Francie, Sheila Bennet (Evelyn Keyes) decides to get even.
Sheila is unaware that she had contracted smallpox and is now a carrier of the disease, thus unwittingly putting herself and many others at risk, while beings followed by a Treasury agent. Matt instructs her to stay at a hotel, but she sneaks out. Visiting the office of Dr. Wood, she infects a young girl. The doctor treats Sheila’s symptoms as a cold, but when the young girl dies of smallpox, he realizes that Sheila is dangerously carrying the virus.
Trying to run away, Matt dies when he falls down from a building. At the end, Sheila also succumbs to her illness, but not before informing her doctor of all the people she had contacted.
The deep shadows in the nocturnal sequences imagery of Joseph F. Biroc, who shot many of Robert Aldrich’s films, heighten the suspense and mood of paranoia.
There’s excellent support from actors Charles Korvin (Sangaree), Dorothy Malone (Best Supporting Actress, “Written on the Wind”), Lola Albright (The Tender Trap), and William Bishop (Harriet Craig).
Sheila Bennett (Evelyn Keys)
Matt Krane (Charles Korvin)
Dr. Ben Wood (William Bishop)
Alice Lorie (Dorothy Malone)
Francie Bennet (Lola Albright)
Johnson (Barry Kelley)
Commissioner Elis (Cral Benton Reid)
Dr. Cooper (Ludwig Donath)
Running time: 79 Minutes.