On Dangerous Ground

1951

Drama / Film-Noir

0
IMDb Rating 7.4

Synopsis


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1.56G
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English
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82 min
P/S 54 / 65

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Spikeopath 8

On Dangerous Ground is directed by Nicholas Ray and stars Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan &amp; Ward Bond. It&#39;s loosely adapted by Ray and A. I. Bezzerides from Gerald Butler&#39;s novel Mad With Much Heart. Cinematography is by George E. Diskant &amp; the music is provided by Bernard Herrmann &amp; Paul Sawtell. The story concerns Ryan&#39;s weary, lonely and psychologically bothered cop, Jim Wilson. Who after finally snapping the patience of his superiors is sent to Westham in the rural north to aid a murder case there. The idea is to get him off the streets he&#39;s so bitter about and to stop him finally going over the violence tinged edge. It&#39;s here, amongst the wintry landscapes, that he is brought into contact with Mary Malden (Lupino). A practically blind woman, Mary holds all the keys to the mystery and to the door at the end of Wilson&#39;s journey.<br/><br/>Right from the outset we are in no doubt that Nicholas Ray is about to take us on a noir journey. Herrmann&#39;s pulse like score accompanies its nighttime opening, Diskant&#39;s photography immediately painting a harsh city where life on the streets is tough. A place where loneliness can eat away at the soul and bleakness pours down off of the bars and the cheaply built apartments. It is in short, firmly encapsulating of Jim Wilson&#39;s bitterness and frame of mind. Wilson, once a prime athlete, is mired in solitude, his only telling contribution to society is his work, but that is ebbing away by the day. His mood is not helped by his partners, Pop &amp; Pete, who can easily switch off once their shift has finished - but they have family to go home to, Wilson does not. Wilson&#39;s only source of joy comes courtesy of the paperboy he briefly plays football with out on the street (a rare ray of light in the film&#39;s moody atmospheric first half).<br/><br/>Then the film shifts for its second act, a shift that has made On Dangerous Ground a most divisive picture in discussions over the years. Sent north to effectively cool down by Captain Brawley (Ed Begley), we find Wilson leaving behind the dank city and entering the snowbound countryside in the north. Dark has become light as it were. The whole style and pace of the film has changed, yet this is still a place tainted by badness. A girl has been murdered and Wilson is still here to locate potential evil. An evil that the murdered girls father (Ward Bond as Walter Brent) wants to snuff out with his own vengeful fury. As the two men track down the killer, Wilson sees much of himself in Brent&#39;s anger, but once the guys arrive at Mary Malden&#39;s isolated cabin, things shift just a little more.<br/><br/>Said to be a favourite of Martin Scorsese, and an influence for Taxi Driver, On Dangerous Ground has often been called Nicholas Ray&#39;s best film by some of his fans (I&#39;d say In A Lonely Place personally). Odd then that Ray himself wasn&#39;t happy with the film, calling it a failure and not the finished product he had envisaged. Ray had wanted a three structured movie, not the two part one it is; with the final third being far bleaker and more noirish than the one we actually get. However, and the ending is a bit scratchy for the genre it sits in, it&#39;s still a fabulous film that is more about the journey of its protagonist than the diversity caused by its finale. Ryan is terrific, a real powerhouse and believable performance, while Lupino beautifully realises Mary&#39;s serene impact on Wilson and the counter opposite to the darkness within the picture. It&#39;s a given really, but Herrmann&#39;s score is potent, listen out for the opening, the crossover section from city to countryside and the rock face pursuit. While Ray directs with his customary knack of blending the grim with the almost poetic. 8/10

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Reviewed by claudio_carvalho 8

The lonely and tough Jim Wilson (Robert Ryan) is an efficient detective that frequently uses excessive violence to resolve his cases and even his partners do not approve his behavior. While chasing two cop killers, he blows the bladder of another suspect during the interrogation to get the information to catch the assassins. He is warned by his chief Captain Brawley (Ed Begley) to cool off, and when he beats another suspect on the street, Brawley sends him &quot;upstate to Siberia&quot; in the cold Westham to calm down and help the locals in a murder case of a girl. When he arrives, he visits the family of the victim, whose father Walter Brent (Ward Bond) is decided to kill the murderer. They chase the man through the snow, and after a car accident, they reach the isolated house of Mary Malden (Ida Lupino), a blind woman that lives alone in the middle of nowhere with her brother Danny (Sumner Williams) that has mental problem. Brent and Jim are lodged by Mary to spend the night, and Jim is affected by Mary in a process of humanization and redemption.<br/><br/>&quot;On Dangerous Ground&quot;is a simple movie with a tale of loneliness, trust and redemption developed through two totally different characters that have only loneliness in common. Jim Wilson lives in the big city, is brutal, trusts nobody and is in the edge in his career, acting like a gangster wearing a badge. Mary Malden lives in the countryside, is gentle, has to trust everybody and sacrificed her chance to see again to take care of her mentally unstable brother. The process of humanization of Jim Wilson is depicted through his relationship with Mary and is very touching. Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan have great performances under the direction of Nicholas Ray in this credible story. My vote is eight.<br/><br/>Title (Brazil): &quot;Cinzas Que Queimam&quot; (&quot;Ashes that Burn&quot;)<br/><br/>Note: On 14 January 2017, I saw this film again.

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Reviewed by ackstasis 8

Director Nicholas Ray really knew how to give film noir a unique edge. &#39;In a Lonely Place (1950),&#39; which starred Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame, was a brooding study of trust and paranoia, thematically similar in some ways to Billy Wilder&#39;s &#39;Sunset Blvd. (1950),&#39; though more overt in its exploration of Hollywood&#39;s failings. Likewise, &#39;On Dangerous Ground (1952)&#39; presented such an curious interpretation of noir that RKO wasn&#39;t sure what to do with it, and the film collected dust on a shelf for two years. Indeed, thematically, the film might even be considered a separate progression from the film noir style, a form of cinematic purification that serves to cleanse a decade of seedy, cynical decadence in the American film industry. The hard-edged squalor of inner-city crime gives way to a liberating expanse of trees and snow, revealing an incidence of crime, certainly, but also, and more importantly, a fresh and cathartic sense of nobility that is not to be found in the urban back-streets.<br/><br/>Robert Ryan is terrific as Jim Wilson, a city cop who&#39;s been on the Force for eleven years, after which he has become bitter, lonely and completely disillusioned. Whereas his colleagues, having found stability in their families, are able to leave their work behind at the end of every shift, Jim returns home each night seething with the rottenness of city life. In his futile efforts to scourge the streets of scum, he has become those whom he despises, and has a tendency to unexpectedly explode with violence. Nicholas Ray, who would later give a resounding voice to teenage angst in &#39;Rebel Without a Cause (1955),&#39; here captures perfectly the pressure and frustration of Jim Wilson&#39;s occupation, and the horror when he suddenly realises what he has driven to become: &quot;Why do you make me do it? You know you&#39;re gonna talk! I always make you punks talk!&quot; This seedy urban nightmare has the grittiness equal to any film noir of the era, and Bernard Hermann&#39;s pounding score lends a fierce intensity.<br/><br/>Then ? against all expectations ? &#39;On Dangerous Ground&#39; takes a dramatic narrative turn. Jim, in order to cool off, is assigned to a murder case in the snow-strewn countryside upstate. A young girl has been killed, and her father (Ward Bond) has pledged to murder the man responsible. Almost immediately, the pair strike out in pursuit of the accused perpetrator, and their frantic chase ends at the home of a lonely blind woman, Mary Malden (Ida Lupino, who also directed a few scenes after Ray fell ill). Jim&#39;s interactions with Mary inevitably lead him towards some sort of redemption, but I was struck most profoundly by their earlier conversations, particularly when Mary thanks Jim for his compassion in not showing any pity towards her. This moment illustrated so poignantly, I think, how far from humanity Jim has allowed himself to drift: his reaction to Mary&#39;s condition was not borne from any compassion or kindness, but rather from his lack of it; he long ago abandoned the ability to feel pity for another person.<br/><br/>Though 82 minutes to perhaps too brief a running time to present such a drastic character turn-around, the mid-film tonal shift is otherwise handled very well. George E. Diskant&#39;s claustrophobic camera-work, which made dynamic use of hand-held photography, becomes slower and more contemplative, and Herrmann&#39;s score similarly tones down into the mournful melody of Virginia Majewski&#39;s viola da gamba. Jim&#39;s tentative partnership with the murder victim&#39;s mutinous father allows him to acknowledge his duty as a police detective, providing an avenue through which he can evade his violent compulsions. The trust and kindness demonstrated by the blind Mary also permits him to recognise the overwhelming goodness of human beings, and even a certain element of sympathy to be found in the acts of a criminal. Though Nicholas Ray originally wished to end the film on more of a downbeat note, the studio enforced an optimistic ending. Nevertheless, I liked that &#39;On Dangerous Ground&#39; acts as a counterpoint to the inescapable doom in most film-noirs; that a soul as disillusioned as Jim Wilson can ultimately uncover salvation is a reassuring thought in today&#39;s crazy world.

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