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On Dangerous Ground

Screening on Film
Directed by Nicholas Ray.
With Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond.
US, 1952, 35mm, black & white, 82 min.
Print source: Warner Bros

I think this is the only noir set half in the familiar greasy, nocturnal cityscape and half in the broad daylight of a snowy countryside. The sudden departure from the precincts of the former produces a dreamy free-fall into the cool open breezes of the latter, and the film achieves an airborne exhilaration rarely produced by cop pictures—trust Nick Ray to pull off the one-time stunt!  Starring Robert Ryan at his most tremulously contained borderline-psychopathic best, playing a cop with anger issues banished to the sticks till he calms down. There he teams up with the father of a just-murdered girl to chase down her killer. The father (Ward Bond), equipped in full Elmer Fudd hunting fatigues and shotgun, has an itchy trigger finger and understandable anger issues of his own. All this anger is madly driven by perhaps the best Bernard Herrmann score outside of Vertigo. Ida Lupino, herself a no-nonsense director of seven hardboiled features, here plays the blind woman at the tender center of this furious and sleety emotional maelstrom.

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