Monday, July 20, 2009

ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1952) - Nicholas Ray

Not to be confused with Steven Seagal's 1994 eco-vanity project On Deadly Ground wherein he single-handedly saves the Alaskan wilderness with a pump action shotgun.

Here Robert Ryan plays an lonely NYC cop in the midst of a career meltdown. After getting slap-happy and rough-handing one too many suspects, Ryan gets transferred upstate to investigate a snow country murder and falls in with a group of hunters who are after the killer, one of whom is the murdered girl's father. But when Ryan starts to soften on the killer's blind sister (a great Ida Lupino relishing her sightless role), the hunter father's vigilante blood-thirst starts to leave a bad taste in Ryan's mouth. He must re-think his own violent methods.

Props to director Nic Ray for pulling off the near-impossible -- completely switching up the tone of his movie mid-way from tough cop noir to rural melodrama and still keeping audiences on the hook. Not an easy thing to do, but Ray and the actors make it work creating a choice noir that is somehow both hard and soft-boiled at the same time.

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