This unpublished capsule review was originally written in 2012 in preparation for covering a noir festival for the Portland Mercury.
This taut, multi-layered thriller is a real treat. John Payne plays Ernie Driscoll, a boxer whose last fight was his real last fight. A bad beating has permanently damaged his eye, and now he drives a cab. His wife (Peggie Castle) is fed up with the drab life, and Ernie is at his wit's end. Unfortunately for him, his night is about to go horribly wrong. Discovering that his wife is cheating on him with a jewel thief (Brad Dexter) is just the start. Before morning, Ernie will be framed for murder, wanted for beating up a theatre troop, and blind to the love that's right in front of him, the caring actress Linda (Evelyn Keyes). Lots of criss-crossing lines tighten a web around Ernie, leading an exciting foot chase and a chance at hand-to-hand redemption. Director Phil Karlson keeps a steady hand throughout, never losing control of his plot. 99 River Street's cynical streak gives way to romance and an affirmation that folks can be good and decent and still survive. A noir with a well-earned happy ending.