Sunday, December 04, 2016

Tonight's Movie: On Dangerous Ground (1951) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1951), which is probably my all-time favorite Robert Ryan film, is now available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive.

ON DANGEROUS GROUND was released on DVD a decade ago. Those who love the film, and those meeting it for the first time, will appreciate seeing the snowy vistas photographed by George E. Diskant on this excellent new disc.

I first saw ON DANGEROUS GROUND back in 2006 and revisited it last year at the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival. It grew even higher in my estimation on the second viewing, a starkly beautiful and emotional experience, and I was glad to watch it yet again thanks to the new Blu-ray release.

Nicholas Ray directed this tale of an anguished, angry police detective, Jim Wilson (Ryan), who is banished to solve a case in snowy climes, in hopes the change of scenery will cool him off. He meets Mary Malden (Ida Lupino), a blind woman living an isolated country life with her troubled brother (Sumner Williams). Eventually Jim and Mary change each other's lives.

To say more would perhaps be saying too much; it's one of those movies which is best met without knowing what to expect, letting its power gradually wash over the viewer. Although initially very dark and "noir," the film is ultimately about hope and redemption; the theme is underscored by the change from the initial dark city backgrounds to backdrops of almost blinding white snow.

Ryan and Lupino are such moving actors that my eyes mist frequently watching this film. Nicholas Ray didn't care for the ending insisted upon by the studio, so it was instead directed by Ida Lupino, and in my estimation it's perfect.

ON DANGEROUS GROUND was scored by Bernard Herrmann. Listen closely and you'll hear strains of music which later appeared in NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959). The jolting theme music during the opening credits, as a car races past neon signs, is pure Herrmann at his best, and pure noir.

The movie runs 82 minutes. The supporting cast includes Ward Bond, Anthony Ross, Olive Carey, Ed Begley (Sr.), Ian Wolfe, Cleo Moore, Pat Prest, Frank Ferguson, and Gus Schilling. Hazel, the striking young woman working in the drugstore, is played by Joan Taylor (EARTH VS. THE FLYING SAUCERS).

Particular kudos go to the wonderful Charles Kemper, a superb character actor who sadly died before this was released. His line "I live with other people" is one of my favorite moments.

The Blu-ray is a very good-looking print. The disc includes the Glenn Erickson commentary and trailer which were on the original DVD release.

Highly recommended.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop.

3 Comments:

OpenID vienna said...

I too love this movie.
That is a great line from Charles Kemper.

11:55 PM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

Hard to chose a favorite Robert Ryan/ Lupino picture. This one is definitely at the top. A perfect meld of screenplay, actors, music. Everyone a top notch professional who could creaTE wonderful things. When I was in highschool "film appreciation class" in the 70's it seemed that the lesson was all about the music melded to the action shots. Brilliantly done of course, but the tender moments were just as wonderful.

10:01 PM  
Blogger panavia999 said...

AND.. Robert Ryan was A HUNK of manly pulchritude.. He could put his shoes under my bed any day. AND he loved to read books. Great guy.

10:04 PM  

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