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597 Ratings

On Dangerous Ground

Directed by Nicholas Ray, Ida Lupino
United States, 1951
Crime, Drama, Film noir


While hunting down the killer of a fellow policeman, veteran detective Jim Wilson grows increasingly morose and violent, causing his more even-tempered partners, Bill “Pop” Daly and Pete Santos, concern.

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On Dangerous Ground Directed by Nicholas Ray, Ida Lupino
Even more than most film noir films, On Dangerous Ground is marked by its expressive realism, especially in the opening half hour, where the precise depiction of dingy tenements, crowded streets, and sleazy bars is enforced by the protagonist’s experience of them in cramped, obscured, and oblique compositions… But surface realism was never Ray’s goal, and On Dangerous Ground is closer to Carl Theodor Dreyer than the contemporary thrillers of Robert Siodmak or Jules Dassin.
December 12, 2016
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Abetted by Bernard Herrmann’s ambitious, elaborate score, “On Dangerous Ground” is notably kinetic… The visual style may be unusual, but the conflict is elemental: Mr. Ryan’s character trusts no one; Ms. Lupino’s has to trust everyone. Mr. Ray was evidently unhappy with what he called the movie’s “miracle ending,” but there’s a hint of the Nordic moralists Carl Theodor Dreyer or Ingmar Bergman in this stark tale of faith and redemption — and not just because of the landscape.
November 24, 2016
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Ray’s images are often unnervingly obsessive, most notably a close-up of Jim and Mary’s hands, intertwined, that’s worthy of silent cinema. Ryan, a wonderful and reliably underrated actor, pares Jim’s misery down to a series of succinct gestures, most memorably facial movements that fleetingly convey sadness within stoic hostility. Lupino has the more difficult task, though, as she must inform an especially thankless stock role—the redemptive blind woman—with tough pathos.
February 22, 2016
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