Agents Mickey Waters and John Flannery re-team to investigate the theft of medicinal narcotics from the S.S. Florentine. The vicious gang responsible is headed by the ruthless, but debonair Paul Vicola, who doesn\'t hesitate to murder anyone who stands in his way. Vicola\'s girlfriend is garroted when she becomes unreliable, and when go-between nightclub comic Dolly Carney poses a risk, he is thrown from his apartment window.
After Waters is shot and killed trying to break into the gang\'s Brooklyn-based yacht club front, Flannery decides to go undercover and pose as a San Francicco drug dealer. The gang is smoked out and after a furious gun battle, Vicola is apprehended and his gang broken.
Scott Brady ... Michael \'Mickey\' Waters
Richard Rober ... Jim Flannery
K.T. Stevens ... Toni Cardell
Yul Brynner ... Paul Vicola
Arthur Blake ... Dolly Carney
Lynne Carter ... Lili Long
John Kellogg ... Lenny
William Challee ... Leo Stasser
Port of New York finds Scott Brady and Richard Rober, a pair of Treasury agents on the trail of some heroin smugglers in one of the earliest films I know that seriously dealt with that subject. In an early role way before his movie stardom is Yul Brynner as the chief villain of the piece.
This would be a most obscure film if it were not for the fact that it contains Yul Brynner\'s screen debut. At the time Brynner was 29 years old and working on and off Broadway and it would be another two years before his breakthrough part in Rodgers&Hammerstein\'s The King and I.
For those who are used to the hyper-masculine Brynner in such films as The King and I, Taras Bulba, and The Ten Commandments, Port of New York is a radical departure from casting. Brynner plays it fey in this one, he\'s a most epicene, but very deadly crook. I have to say that when he came to Hollywood for good seven years later he never played a part like the one he has in Port of New York ever again in his career.
Brady and Rober make a pair of stalwart government agents and K.T. Stevens is just fine as Brynner\'s luckless girlfriend. Best performance in the film is that of Arthur Blake who plays a nightclub comedian and another luckless individual who gets in way over his head in the rackets. Blake\'s performance is similar to the role Zero Mostel had in The Enforcer the following year.
Port of New York was shot in New York and it contains shots of things long gone like an elevated train station at Canal Street. That familiar voice you hear narrating is that Chet Huntley before he teamed with David Brinkley to become NBC\'s nightly news anchors and rating\'s leaders in that field for years. You\'ll also see Neville Brand in a small role as one of Brynner\'s henchmen.
Port of New York is not a great noir film, but entertaining enough and nothing the cast or crew have anything to be embarrassed about.
The film starts out as if it were a documentary, the voice over narration describing New York City\'s reputation as a major maritime port, along with the burgeoning problem of a growing drug trade. It heats up from there with a million dollar drug deal in the works, masterminded by drug kingpin Paul Vicola (Yul Brynner when he had hair). The story consistently references the \'Florentine Case\', named after the cruise liner from which the drug bundle was hijacked, and it made me wonder if the story was based on a true crime case; that was never made clear.
Yul Brynner was particularly malevolent in his role, foreshadowed by the way he relates to girl friend Toni Cardell (K.T. Stevens) - \"Please darling, you must not become a nuisance\". Unfortunately, he perceived her in just that way, she didn\'t make it to the end of the story. Nor for that matter did Scott Brady, who was actually top billed here for his performance as customs agent Mickey Waters. You\'d be hard pressed to find the lead actor of any film make his exit as quickly as Brady in this one, thanks again to Vicola\'s henchmen. That leaves narcotics officer Jim Flannery (Richard Rober) to make the save for the good guys, with a few twists and turns thrown against him along the way. William Challee and Neville Brand have just the right look for their roles as the top henchies, their craggy features make them almost a caricature.
This one\'s actually a fairly gripping crime drama, made especially atmospheric and moody with all the great shots of the city coastline and East River traffic. Surprisingly, I found myself recognizing a lot of it from one of those leisure cruises around Manhattan made not long ago, even though this movie is pushing near sixty years old. I think some of those boats in the film might have made it till today.
Best of all, the film turned out to be a real bargain as part of a sixteen movie DVD package from Platinum Disc, simply titled \'Mobster Movies\'. Though every film in the package is all but unknown, each, like \"Port of New York\", is turning out to be a minor gem from the 1940\'s and \'50\'s.
The location-filmed PORT of NEW YORK garnered more attention years after its release in 1949; because of the debut of Yul Brynner. In his first film role, Brynner plays Paul Vicola, an arrogant and ruthless narcotics smuggler operating from a yacht in the harbor. Drugs would be smuggled from ships entering the Port of New York and Vicola would make sure the couriers would meet a casual death. Mickey Waters(Scott Brady)and Jim Flannery(Richard Rober)are government agents trying to get a handle on how the smuggling ring functions. Dolly Carney(Arthur Blake)claims to be getting out of the business when he is arrested. His girlfriend Toni(K.T. Stevens)is frightened enough to try and blow the whistle on the dope deals. The hard-hitting Brady deservedly is the star of this B&W crime flick. Brynner displayed enough not to go unnoticed.