Saturday, June 18, 2016

Ray of Sunshine

I read about On Dangerous Ground (1952) in some film blog or another - I'd link to it if I could find it. Ms. Spenser, on the other hand, saw it long ago and loved it. But I queued it up for two reasons: director Nicholas Ray and star Ida Lupino.

The actual star is Robert Ryan. He's a city cop who's fed up with the low-life scum he has to deal with. He gets a little too rough with some of them and his chief sends him upstate to stay out of trouble. Although I dispatched this with a sentence or so, it takes up a substantial part of the movie, and is a gritty little mini-noir.

Ryan heads up to the snowy countryside to help the locals investigate the murder of a young woman. He meets up with her father, Ward Bond, and they set off to find the mentally disturbed boy that Bond suspects. He lives with his blind sister, Ida Lupino. They find her, but she says she doesn't know where he is.

The short time this movie runs while Ryan is solving the crime is mostly about the growing bond between him and Lupino. As she says, he is someone who trusts nobody, while she has to trust everyone. Ryan sees Ward Bond's blood thirst and starts to reconsider his own temper. It's a bit pat, but I guess that's the magic of the country.

Ryan is dependably cruel yet sympathetic, so you can believe his change of heart. Lupino is wonderful as always. Ray's black-and-white imagery elevates this sunny noir, while keeping it a comfortable B-movie. Good stuff, possibly classic.

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