Plot: Sheila (Evelyn Keyes) has just arrived in New York, fresh off a trip to Cuba, but she isn’t on vacation. Her travels are part of her role as a courier, as her boyfriend Matt (Charles Korvin) has her involved in a smuggling operation and a valuable stash of diamonds is the score. As soon as she stepped into the city, Sheila could sense that she was being observed and she was right, as a treasury officer was tasked to monitor her activities. Although she feels worn down and in need of some rest, she sheds her tail and hides out in Matt’s apartment. Meanwhile, she learns that Matt has double crossed her and unknown to Sheila, her presence in New York has caused an outbreak of smallpox that threatens to turn in an epidemic.
Entertainment Value: I love the premise of The Killer That Stalked New York, as it has the usual film noir elements and all the texture you’d from the genre, but mixes in a wild pandemic thread as a kicker. This one was shelved after Panic in the Streets released with a similar concept and in the wake of that, still tends be looked at as kind of a b movie version of that picture. So not a unique narrative perhaps, but it adds some spice and this movie needs all the spice it can muster, as the film is a little anemic in most scenes. The story is fine and was inspired by a real life newspaper report, but while it is watchable, The Killer That Stalked New York doesn’t have a real hook and as such, never captivates like it should. A duration of under 80 minutes helps, as it keeps filler down and the pace brisk, but the movie still struggles at times to hold interest, as it just isn’t that engaging of an experience. If you’re a big fan of film noir however, this one might provide some light entertainment.
The cast of The Killer That Stalked New York has a number of familiar faces, but none of the performances stand out as overly memorable. No one is bad at all, but the material doesn’t give them much of a chance to shine, so the efforts turn out as passable, but not above and beyond. Evelyn Keyes has the lead and is competent, but again, the script doesn’t present her with chances to really showcase her talent, outside of a few dramatic moments. She adds more presence once the illness takes hold, though even then I think she is capable, but middle of the road. This covers most of the cast, as everyone shows up and performs well, but this just isn’t memorable material and neither the writing or the performances are sharp. The cast also includes Lola Albright, William Bishop, Charles Korvin, and Dorothy Malone.