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Plot: Rough city cop Jim Wilson is disciplined by his captain and is sent upstate, to a snowy mountain town, to help the local sheriff solve a murder case. Runtime: 82 mins Release Date: 13 Dec 1951
Minor masterpiece film noir/film blanc (by wrygrass)
I consider this short, unpretentious film to be a minor masterpiece. The movement from the familiar cityscape of the film noir to the white of the snowy countryside, from the damned, despairing world of the detective to the redeemed world of love offered by the heroine is captured in minimalist dialog and with outstanding cinematography. That one kiss at the end is worth a thousand sex scenes.
Nicholas Ray's Tense, Powerful Noir of Redemption... (by cariart)
"On Dangerous Ground", Nicholas Ray's short, yet powerful drama of one cop's journey from destruction to redemption, took nearly two years to reach the screen upon completion, was panned by critics and ignored by audiences when released, and still generates discussion to this day How much is actually Ray's vision, and how much did Howard Hughes change it, prior to release? Fortunately, time has given perspective to the film, and it is recognized, today, as one of the greater film noir classics of the era, and a showcase of it's star, the unfairly underrated Robert <more>
Ryan.The film, based on Gerald Butler's "Mad with Much Heart", of a British policeman finding renewal during a manhunt in the English countryside, was rewritten, by director Ray and screenwriter A.I. Bezzerides, into a three-movement 'symphonic' piece: big city cop Ryan , sliding toward self-destruction as the corruption and filth he deals with, daily, destroys his soul 1st movement ; exiled into the mountains to observe and aid in a manhunt, he meets a blind girl Ida Lupino with the purity and innocence he once had, and a local Ward Bond , whose brutal single-mindedness mirrored the man he had become 2nd movement ; and his metamorphosis, falling in love, attempting to save the girl's brother instead of simply crushing him, and rediscovering in himself the 'good' man he had been, and could be, again 3rd movement . Contemporary audiences, expecting a straight-forward action tale, couldn't understand this subtle character study even co-star Ida Lupino called the script 'weak' , but Ray, who loved stories of alienation and spiritual rebirth, particularly in an era when many of his peers were being 'blacklisted' in the Communist 'witch-hunts', refused to sacrifice the richness of characterization and structure, simply to make the tale more 'commercial'. While Howard Hughes' tinkering diluted the symphonic format, somewhat adding a romantic climax, as Ryan and Lupino end the film in each other's arms , he actually improved the film, clarifying the action, and 'cleaning up' a few ambiguous elements. This is one film where 'too many cooks' didn't ruin the 'recipe'! Of particular importance is the remarkable music score, by Bernard Herrmann. The brilliant composer was returning to Hollywood after conducting the CBS Symphony Orchestra for a few years, and he demanded, and got, an unprecedented amount of control on how his music would be used in the film. The end result was one of his best works, exciting, dramatic, and lushly romantic, and it would foreshadow his equally remarkable score for "North by Northwest".It would take over thirty years for "On Dangerous Ground" to be recognized as the classic it actually was, and, sadly, many of the principals would never live long enough to see the film receive the attention it deserved. Martin Scorsese called it one of the most influential films on his work "Taxi Driver" incorporated many of the film's visual and character elements, and would be scored by Bernard Herrmann, as well .The film is, if not a masterpiece, among the handful of the 'film noir' genre of films that truly deserve to be called 'Classic'!
Stunning Nicholas Ray Film- Unusual, Involving And Featuring A Brilliant Performance From Robert Ryan... (by jem132)
Nicholas Ray's excellent On Dangerous Ground is, in essence, a brilliant character study of a tortured, hard, combustible and lonely city cop, Jim Wilson Robert Ryan , who finds something in life worth living for when he falls in love with a sweet, independent yet vulnerable blind woman Mary Malden Ida Lupino .Aside from a very brief opening shot of who we later find out is Lupino and her brother, the film opens in the city, where morally sick cop Wilson is on the beat. He is a man who sits and stays inside himself eating himself away with hate, loneliness and disgust with his job and <more>
the state of his life, until he inevitably violently explodes. He is juxtaposed early on with the other cops, who are family men and "live with other people". The first Act resembles a police procedural flick, with Ryan chasing down the crims in the big city, yet it actually goes much deeper than that, thanks to Ray's direction, Bezzerides' excellent writing and Ryan's brilliant performance. Here we get a bare-knuckles portrayal of a man who's soul is slowly dying. A couple of decent-looking dames appear on the scene, yet he's not really interested in anything, much less women, and the cheapness of these molls and their criminal boyfriends disgusts Ryan. He is a cop, who, like Kirk Douglas in The Detective Story, is more like a thug- yet the pain in Ryan's voice as he pleads internally with himself and his victim "Why do you make me do it?" is undeniably emotionally powerful.After one beating too many, Ryan is sent off to chase a killer upstate. Here he encounters Lupino, the blind girl who is hiding her mentally-disturbed brother, who happens to be the killer of a local teenage girl, away from the police, for fear they will hurt him. Ryan and Ward Bond, the father of the murdered girl who desperately wants revenge, are led on their chase to Lupino's doorstep. Ryan gradually realises that the woman is blind, and while his tough exterior is still very much intact, he slowly warms and shows a more vulnerable side. We see Ryan falling in love with her, and he doesn't understand the emotional change in him, and he's quite tender in his treatment of her. Here is the guy we have seen earlier almost beat a man to death and look physically repulsed at every female he meets, gently guide Mary through the house by hand.There is a great scene between Lupino and Ryan, well-acted and very well-written. She may be blind, but she is perceptive, realising that Ryan is much more sensitive than he appears to be. He even promises not to hurt her brother, a promise he does keep even if the boy does fall to his death anyway. Ryan becomes very protective of Lupino, and the scene where he guides her through the snow on the way back to house, not saying anything but just watching her intently, is beautiful.Maybe the final scenes are rushed, yet the embrace between Lupino and Ryan is what we have been waiting for for about 40 minutes, and we get it- and how! That kiss is hot. Actually, with a lesser script and lesser direction the ending would have been mawkish, yet the voice-over as Ryan sits in the car going back to the city does work and is very powerful. Of course, he goes back to the woman who puts her faith entirely in his hands- and she tentatively reaches out her hands towards him as he waits on the stairs for her. It's not the ending we would have expected after the opening 10 minutes, yet it's satisfying, beautiful and uplifting without being slushy or sentimental- thanks in large part to two great actors .The film also possesses a striking Bernard Hermann score the film, in a way, points towards Hitchcock's North By Northwest, in both the music and the chase , excellent location shooting and black-and-white photography. It is a layered, unusual noir and just a great film.
The Nicholas Ray-A.I. Bezzerides On Dangerous Ground is a modestly budgeted film that tries to be different, and succeeds. Tough, brutal city cop Robert Ryan is sent upstate to help solve a murder case, and also to be got rid of, since he seems to be on the verge of mental breakdown. Along the way he runs into a blind woman, the father of the murdered teen, and a few locals. This is the bare bones of the story, such as it is, which on the surface appears mundane. But writer Bezzerides and director Ray were up to other things, and the crime picture trappings of this film are deceptive. The <more>
movie is really about that most modern of issues, alienation, and more generally, anomie, the feeling of displacement, namelessness, uselessness, that so many people have in such a fast-paced and mechanized society as ours. Ryan's character is a solitary, apparently celibate cop, who loves no one, and doesn't even like his job. He has a sense of morality, which is maybe what keeps him going. It also, alas, gets him into hot water with his superiors when he punches out one too many suspects, which is the reason for his being sent upstate, to Siberia, as he puts it. Ida Lupino, the blind woman he falls for, is equally isolated, but more serene. Her intuition tells her that Ryan is far more sensitive than he seems or even understands , and they become close but not lovers . She represents his good side, the part of him he has repressed all these years. Ward Bond, as the vengeful father of the murder victim, is like a caricature of Ryan, and also skeptical of him as a "city cop", as he puts it.There's much to recommend in this film. Bernard Hermann's music is excellent. Ray's handling of the chase scenes in the snow, and his evocation of a small rural community, is masterful. The movie seems a little too short to me, for what it's trying to do, and at times spreads itself too thin. It's at various points a crime film, a romance, a mystery, an action picture and a psychological study. The actors, Ryan in particular, are outstanding. No one could play a brooding loser like he could. His emotional outbursts early on feel almost psychotic. Later, mellowed out in the frozen north irony of ironies! , his vulnerable side begins to emerge, and he becomes sympathetic to us, and eventually empathetic toward the woman. One senses his cluelessness about what's happening in him emotionally, as we, the audience, get it, and he doesn't. He's almost fragile trying to deal with tender feelings, especially since if he messes up or things go wrong he can't very well punch his way out of this one.
Worthy of Hitchcock's Finest. (by 349th Heavy Weapons Crew)
The musical score is worthy of Hitchcock's Finest thrillers and is part of what raises this "On Dangerous Ground" to the level of classic film noir. In fact, one might say that it stands on its own as one of the movie's characters - that, plus strong direction and stunning photography with unusual close-ups. For example, the opening shot shows a WOMAN picking up a shoulder holster with a gun in it. Is she some one's long-time gun moll? Is this movie about her?"On Dangerous Ground" surprises you again and again with its many plot twists and excellent, though <more>
sometimes frightening characterizations. Mr. Ryan's character purposely lacks the charm exhibited by tough, film noir leading men like those portrayed by Dick Powell, Humphrey Bogart and Robert Mitchum. And Detective Jim Wilson Robert Ryan is just too brutal for the audience to admire.Ida Lupino doesn't come onto the scene until about 37 minutes into the movie. Ms. Lupino takes what could easily be a one-dimensional supporting role, normally given to a second rate actress, and turns Mary Malden into an intelligent, sensitive and complex character.Ward Bond, the always-competent supporting actor, is excellent as the avenging father. He is so blinded by his loss and rage that he repeatedly misses important clues that are right before his own eyes. Like Mary's blindness, or a critically important fact about the murderer.
I liked this better than I thought I would. I read a number of reviews here, but mostly elsewhere before seeing it, so I knew the two main things to expect: a hard- hitting film noir in the first half and a melodramatic romance in the second. What I found was an interesting, fairly intense movie for all but the last 10 minutes but I liked that part, too. That second half was still a crime story a lot more than any romance as two guys tracked down a killer.To digress, the first part was in the big city and it portrayed Ryan as a too-gung- ho cop who's fast getting burned out on the <more>
job. He's sick of all the punks in the world and just wants to beat the crap out of everyone. When he is one punch away from being suspended and losing his job on a police brutality charge, the boss sends him up north to snow country to find a murderer on the loose in the great outdoors.That second half isn't some slow melodrama, as it's so often described. It's mostly more adventure as Ryan and Ward Bond track down the killer. Bond, whose daughter was the victim in this crime, is hell-bent for revenge. He makes Ryan like a calm-and-collected guy. Along the way, they meet "Mary Malden" Ida Lupino , who is the sister of the kid on the run. She's also blind. Ryan befriends her and she pleads with him to promise to bring her brother in unharmed. Her trust in him helps bring about his personality change. You can see he's starting to soften up, become a little more caring toward his fellow man. The ending of this film is not hokey - either in what happens in the manhunt or what happens to Ryan afterward. It's just a nice job of screen writing. I think this is a fine story, perhaps even underrated. I also think it is one of Ryan's finest acting jobs because he shows callous brutal toughness, loneliness and compassion all in the same film and he shows it convincingly.
ON DANGEROUS GROUND is one of the finest and most enduring film noirs to emanate from Hollywood. Made by the undisputed home of noir RKO Pictures in 1952 it is fondly remembered chiefly for a blistering performance by Robert Ryan and a riveting score by the great Bernard Herrmann. Produced for the studio by John Houseman it was directed with great flair by Nicholas Ray and photographed in vivid monochrome by George E.Diskant. Based on a novel by George Butler it was expertly written for the screen by A.I. Bezzerides.Robert Ryan is Jim Wilson the brutish cop in the city who just cannot control <more>
his temper when it comes to questioning suspects. He beats up on them with frightening vehemence. "We're just garbage men - cleaning the streets of garbage" he exclaims to his two colleagues Pop Daly and Pete Santos Charles Kemper/Anthony Ross . To Pop Daly he asks "How do you live with this garbage"? Daly replies "I don't... I live with other people.....I never bring the job home with me......I leave it outside. To get anything out of this life you've got to put something into it with a heart". Wilson's boss Captain Brawley Ed Begley comes down hard on him over his violent methods. "I get results" Wilson retorts. To get him out of the city Brawley sends him on a murder case 70 miles up state. When he gets there he ties up with Walter Brant Ward Bond who's young daughter has been brutally murdered. Brent is bloodthirsty and will not rest until he empties his double barreled shotgun into the killer. In Brant's brutish behavior Wilson sees a reflection of himself. The killer happens to be the younger, yet deranged, brother of Mary Malden Ida Lupino a gentle blind girl who lives alone in a remote cabin in the snow covered hills. A perceptive woman she senses in Wilson a great loneliness and he in turn finds himself being drawn to her. Eventually - after a desperate pursuit across the snow - the killer falls to his death from a cliff. Wilson - the job now completed - begins his return to the city. But just as he gets there he suddenly turns back as he realises his destiny is by the side of Mary Malden.One of the most striking elements of ON DANGEROUS GROUND is the outstanding score by the brilliant Bernard Herrmann. The main title over the credits is the frenetic "Hunt Theme" developed later in the picture for the scene where the killer is being chased across some snow covered terrain. The baying horns and yelping trumpets cleverly simulating the howls and barks of hunting hounds. Then there is the highlight of the score - the exquisite and persuasive "Viola de Amour" which characterizes not only the vulnerability but also the gentle nature of Mary Malden and poignantly provides a tender aura for her scenes with Jim Wilson. Herrmann himself was so taken by Virginia Majewski's Viola playing of the piece he insisted her name be included on the credits. A rare instance in film where a studio orchestra instrumentalist's name appears on the titles.ON DANGEROUS GROUND is a defining creation of old Hollywood picture making! A masterpiece of ingenuity, exceptional performances, adroit writing, vibrant cinematography and brilliant music. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE WE NEED??
Loneliness, Trust and Redemption (by claudio_carvalho)
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 "upstate to Siberia" in the cold Westham to calm down and help the locals in a murder case of a girl. When he arrives, he visits <more>
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."On Dangerous Ground"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.Title Brazil : "Cinzas Que Queimam" "Ashes that Burn" Note: On 14 January 2017, I saw this film again.
Garbage, all we handle is garbage. (by Spikeopath)
On Dangerous Ground is directed by Nicholas Ray and stars Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan & Ward Bond. It's loosely adapted by Ray and A. I. Bezzerides from Gerald Butler's novel Mad With Much Heart. Cinematography is by George E. Diskant & the music is provided by Bernard Herrmann & Paul Sawtell. The story concerns Ryan'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's so bitter about and to stop <more>
him finally going over the violence tinged edge. It'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's journey.Right from the outset we are in no doubt that Nicholas Ray is about to take us on a noir journey. Herrmann's pulse like score accompanies its nighttime opening, Diskant'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'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 & Pete, who can easily switch off once their shift has finished - but they have family to go home to, Wilson does not. Wilson'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's moody atmospheric first half .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's anger, but once the guys arrive at Mary Malden's isolated cabin, things shift just a little more.Said to be a favourite of Martin Scorsese, and an influence for Taxi Driver, On Dangerous Ground has often been called Nicholas Ray's best film by some of his fans I'd say In A Lonely Place personally . Odd then that Ray himself wasn'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'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's serene impact on Wilson and the counter opposite to the darkness within the picture. It's a given really, but Herrmann'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