Port of New York (film)

Port of New York is a 1949 American film noir crime film directed by László Benedek with cinematography by George E. Diskant and shot in semidocumentary style. The film is notable for being Yul Brynner's first movie. He had not begun shaving his head yet. The film, which is very similar to T-Men (1947), was shot on location in New York City.[1]

Port of New York
Port of New York (film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byLászló Benedek
Produced byAubrey Schenck
Screenplay byEugene Ling
Story byArthur A. Ross
Bert Murray
StarringScott Brady
Richard Rober
K.T. Stevens
Yul Brynner
Narrated byChet Huntley
Music bySol Kaplan
CinematographyGeorge E. Diskant
Edited byNorman Colbert
Samba Films
Contemporary Productions
Distributed byEagle-Lion Films
Release date
  • November 28, 1949 (1949-11-28) (United States)
Running time
82 minutes
CountryUnited States


The film narrated by Chet Huntley (future NBC nightly newscaster) tells the story of a two federal agents, one from Customs and one from Narcotics, out to stop the distribution of opium that came in on a ship in the Port of New York but was smuggled off by drug dealers. The leader of the drug dealers is the suave Paul Vicola (Brynner).

Customs agent Waters and FBI agent Flannery jointly investigate the pure opium shipment that goes missing on the S.S. Florentine. The purser was murdered. Toni Cardell was a passenger on the ship and girlfriend of drug dealer Paul Vicola. Because she played a part in the smuggling, she is upset about the murder and wants out. When Vicola refuses to stake her for a new life elsewhere, Toni calls the police to become an informant. She makes a brief interview on a subway platform with Flannery to plan another meeting, but Vicola garrotes her before she can complete her plans. She had a train reservation so police search all the lockers at Penn RR station and find a parcel of opium drugs. They stakeout the locker and follow the pick up man to a nightclub. Comic Dolly Carney, the recipient, under police pressure discloses his contact to be Leo Stasser at North River yacht. Carney's friend, a dancer at the nightclub named Lili Long, saw his arrest by Waters and Flannery, and on a tip from the nightclub owner goes to Vicola for help.

Waters and Flannery stake out Stasser at his harbor marina. Waters slips in undercover by working on a boat there. That night they search Stasser's office and find he has all the lab supplies ready to cut the "junk." Flannery also finds a message from a G. W. Wyley about the drug deal. Stasser and his men return and find Waters, but Flannery escapes. The next day Waters is found floating dead in the bay. Stasser bails Carney out of jail. But intending to silence him, Stasser throws Carney out his high rise apartment window.

The police arrest Wyley on his flight layover in Chicago, and Flannery poses as Wyley arriving at La Guardia as scheduled to complete the drug deal. As the deal proceeds on Vicola's yacht, Lili Long, comes to him again to find out why Carney would have killed himself. She exposes Flannery as a cop, and a shootout starts. The Coast Guard is following the yacht, and Vicola and his drug gangsters are caught. Narrator states that justice is served.



Critical responseEdit

The film critic of The Austin Chronicle generally liked the film, writing, "Semi-documentary police procedurals became quite popular for a while in the late Forties, with lots of location shooting and official-sounding voiceovers. Port of New York follows in the style of The House on 92nd Street and Jules Dassin's The Naked City, with a fair amount of suspense and plenty of violent fisticuffs. George Diskant brought his striking camera work to bear as well; sometimes the 'dark film' is so dark it's hard to even see what's going on. Most notable, however, is Brynner's first film role; he plays Vicola with sleek menace and self-assured evil (and with a full head of hair, too, I might add). Not an outstanding film, Port of New York is well-suited to its subject matter and has been rather neglected for years."[2]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz gave the film a mixed review, writing, "An unknown Yul Brynner, with all his hair, in his first film role, plays a well-spoken, smug narcotics smuggler named Paul Vicola. It's directed by Lazslo Benedek (The Wild One/The Night Visitor/Death of a Salesman) in a voice-over documentary style ... It generates an authentic sinister atmosphere, having been filmed on location in New York. The police investigation procedural drama plays as minor film noir, that follows along the usual routine lines for such Eagle-Lion cheapie crime stories ... Not much to get excited about, but it does feature an early acting part by Yul Brynner as a ruthless gangster."[3]


  1. ^ Port of New York on IMDb.
  2. ^ The Austin Chronicle. The Austin Chronicle, film review, February 23, 1998. Accessed: July 12, 2013.
  3. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, April 14, 2007. Accessed: July 12, 2013.

External linksEdit