Playing Sat Aug 20 at 1:30, 4:40, 7:50 at Film Forum [Program & Tix]
*Double Feature with Act of Violence (1948)
Kevin Thomas for the Los Angeles Times:
Ray’s On Dangerous Ground, is a revelation, an unjustly neglected stunner. Considering Ray’s cult status, it is mystifying that On Dangerous Ground, which he and A. I. Bezzerides adapted from Gerald Butler’s novel Mad With Much Heart, is not as well-known as such other Ray films noir as They Live by Night (1948) and In a Lonely Place (1950). Working with two virtuosos, cinematographer George E. Diskant and the great film composer Bernard Herrmann, Ray hurtles us into the alienated world of a big-city police detective (Robert Ryan), a loner so embittered by 11 years on the force that he’s beginning to undermine his effectiveness by his increasingly violent physical abuse of suspects. Eager to get him out of town for awhile, his chief (Ed Begley) gives him a lecture and sends him to the snowy countryside to help track down the unknown killer of a young girl.
On Dangerous Ground develops into a confrontation, as unexpected for us as it is for the detective himself, between two very different kinds of lonely people: a rage-filled city man who trusts no one and a gentle country woman (Ida Lupino) who, because of her near-total blindness, feels she must trust everyone. The impact of Lupino upon Ryan is dizzying, and because Ray is working with people as talented as he is, he manages a shift from violence and anger to love and tenderness with an effect that is at once convincing and profoundly romantic. From start to finish, the film is breathtakingly dynamic, so much so that it seems amazingly fresh for all its genre conventions. The subtlety, richness and poignancy of Herrmann’s score makes it easy to understand why it is said that he considered it his favorite.