‘Gunman in the Street’ on TCM

Also known as Time Running Out and It Happened in France

“A deserter from the American army captured in 1949 by the French police after a series of daring daylight robberies, Eddy Robak is to appear tomorrow before the French criminal court…. This man is partly the product of insecurity and desperation, the war, and the black market. An opportunist with a small genius for organization: that is Eddy Robak.”

Shot in location in Paris in 1950 on a low budget with an international cast and crew (Russian and French producers, American director and star, French cast, German cinematographer, and screenwriters from all over), Gunman in the Streets stars Dane Clark as Eddy Robak, a different kind of American in Paris. The film opens with Eddy making a daring daylight escape from police custody and follows his efforts to elude the police dragnet over the long night. The cops have all of his haunts staked out, in particular his former lover Denise Vernon (Simone Signoret), loyal to the brutal Eddy even under police surveillance, but this is a love on the dark side.

Eddy is the classic American gangster psychopath, brutal and hot-tempered man, as we see in the opening minutes when he kicks a cop in the teeth during his escape (a shocking scene for the era that was censored in some countries), and jealous of any man who shows an interest in Denise, or worse, any man she shows the slightest affection for. Denise, meanwhile, is the classic elegant dame, cultured and cool on the outside but toughened up by the life she endured along the way. Her loyalty suggests more of a resignation to the inevitable than any desire left for this brazen criminal, but it is loyalty just the same. Which is why Paris Police Commissioner Dufresne (Fernand Gravey) makes a point of keeping her in his sights.

Continue reading at Turner Classic Movies

Plays Wednesday, January 8 on TCM.

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