99 River Street (1953) John Unleashes The Payne With Power Punches

99 River Street (1953) John Payne movie film noir poster

Depressed and broken ex boxer Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) can’t help reminiscing back to his heyday as a prize fighter and unfortunately to that fateful day when he took a beating on the ropes. The day he damaged his eye, bringing with it the end of his boxing career. He sits there with great sadness, in his apartment, watching a rerun of the fight. Things aren’t helped for our poor Ernie as his wife Pauline (Peggie Castle) loves nothing more that belittling him, reminding him what a loser he is and how he has ruined their future.

Tagline – Rips into you like a double-crossing Dame!

99 River Street (1953) John Payne ernie boxing ring KO99 River Street (1953)Pauline (Peggie Castle) Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) taxi cab drive

He works, making ends meet, as a cabby for his good loyal friend Stan’s (Frank Faylen) taxi business but Ernie has a big dream, to manage his own petrol station. Pauline is not impressed with this ridiculous venture, besides she has other plans, she has a fancy man in the shape of Victor (Brad Dexter) a ruthless diamond thief. The devious two plan to leave poor old Ernie as soon as Victor trades in his bounty for a barrel of cash from local fence Christopher (Jay Adler), a gangster hiding behind the front of a pet shop.

99 River Street (1953) Victor (Brad Dexter) Pauline (Peggie Castle) cheating on ernie99 River Street (1953) Victor (Brad Dexter) Christopher (Jay Adler) diamonds fence gangster

Meanwhile our cabby gets caught up in a web of deceit, adding to his woes. Luckily Stan is on hand for a bit of moral support but there’s also his friend, a beautiful actress, called  Linda (Evelyn Keyes) who gets caught up helping our hero after causing a spot of bother. She’s a real star and no stranger to danger, she’ll do whatever she can to help her friend.

99 River Street (1953) Linda (Evelyn Keyes) Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) cafe acting

Unfortunately Ernie has a monstrous raging temper, it’s always brewing, ready to bubble up over the top and unleash pain down on anything in his rageful way. Unlucky for them, Christopher has two henchmen that happen to cross Ernie’s path. With hardman Mickey (Jack Lambert) giving Ernie the channel he needs to release his explosive brutality on.

99 River Street (1953) Mickey (Jack Lambert) Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) punch up

Tagline – The Picture That Lays It On The Line!

Whether he’s running about town or driving his taxi to the next destination, trouble isn’t far away, sticking by his side, Linda keeps him company but with so much going on, from the likes of gangsters, thugs and the constant threat of the police hunting him down. Poor old Ernie is in a pickle! Can he find a way out of this deep dark despair before he kills someone or gets bumped off himself?

99 River Street (1953) John Payne Stan (Frank Faylen) friendship

Can’t recommend this one highly enough, noir drama at it powerful and exciting best. It’s a frantic journey in it’s short runtime, it really packs a punch.

 A few observations

  • Directed by Phil Karlson who only the year before worked with John Payne on the equally excellent action drama, Kansas City Confidential which I reviewed last week. Make sure you check that one out, it’s another cracker.
  • Two brilliant scenes to look out for and both featuring Evelyn Keyes as Linda. Her performance at the theatre and later, flirting in the cafe are both wonderful standout moments.

99 River Street (1953) Linda (Evelyn Keyes) flirting drunk cafe

  • Love that Ernie stays in his cab uniform with his hat throughout the picture.
  • This was yet another recommend by the excellent Mikes Take On The Movies blog.
  • Not a Phil Karlson and John Payne movie but I also checked out The Crooked Way which is pretty good. Those trio of films make a good introduction to John Payne who I didn’t know until last month.

99 River Street (1953) Ernie Driscoll (John Payne) cdiving cab taxi radio

I’m sure you will enjoy this, it just picked Kansas City Confidential to the top spot for me. What do you think? Let me know if you wish.

Thanks for popping on by the wolf den and keep discovering those wonderful old films.

99 River Street (1953) John Payne movie opening credit titles screenshot

14 thoughts on “99 River Street (1953) John Unleashes The Payne With Power Punches

  1. It looks like we’re all reviewing ’99 River Street’ all of a sudden! I posted review a few weeks ago, and think all three of us – you, Mike, and I – have the same good things to say about it. I think it’s a very underrated noir, and I really liked watching Payne and his explosive anger. I’ve seen ‘Kansas City Confidential’ a few times, and think it’s equally as cool. And yes, I want to see ‘The Crooked Way’ at some point as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Todd. Thanks for the great comment. I’m so enjoying visiting all these noir dramas that I missed when I was young. They are so exciting. The old fight scenes look more brutal and realistic than what’s on offer nowadays and what with the quick run-times, the pacings are relentless. They got me hook line and sinker. Both films are really excellent with KCC looking the more polished I thought but 99 River Street just took the top podium for me. BTW Todd I looked for your film reviews and couldn’t find them, are they somewhere on your baseball site? Or is there another link to a different site you do?


        • Your baseball site is amazing, looks incredibly in depth. I very new to the world of noir and am having a blast, there are thousands of them! Everyone I watch is brilliant in one way or another. Thanks for the link, I will go and have a read now.


          • Thanks for visiting BOTH sites! I have a lot of fun with that baseball site…lots of stats and numbers, but they’re great for when I’m playing a game from the season. And in case you’ve never seen it, I recommend the noir classic ‘Out of the Past’…my favorite noir of all time.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Thanks for the nod, I got to watch it a few months back. What a sublime movie, the dialogue is something else, quintessential noir. I’m so loving coming into this genre now as I have tons to see and it’s brilliant film after brilliant film all the way.


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