ON DANGEROUS GROUND
(1951, Dir. Nicholas Ray)
Warner Archive Blu-ray $21.99
82 min. / B&W / 1.33:1 / Subtitles

Big-city cop Robert Ryan is sick of the human garbage he has to deal with on a nightly basis, and his idea of therapy is beating the crap out of felons, suspects, or just anybody with an attitude he doesn't like, and he doesn't like ANYBODY'S attitude. So his cap'n sends him upstate to aid the local sheriff in a hunt for the killer of a teenage girl. Ryan teams with the girl's murderous papa, Ward Bond, for the manhunt, but once he meets the perp's blind sister, lovely Ida Lupino, Ryan has second thoughts about the garbagehoodedness of humanity.

Wonderful, oft-overlooked film noir that finally gets the respect it deserves with a stellar Blu-ray from Warner Archive. The best noirs are always moody, but this one takes this to a new level: the first half-hour is the usual dark, rainy city streets, but the last hour, set up in the snowy countryside, is no less moody, a reminder that much of what makes noir different includes psychology and loneliness and deranged thinking, all of which can take place in the snow just as well as on concrete.

This is probably Ryan's best serious role, and while Lupino - top-billed - doesn't show up until midway through the proceedings, she's excellent as well, plus in addition to Mr. Bond we get some of our favorite supporting characters, including Charles Kemper, Ed Begley, Frank Ferguson, Gus Schilling, Nestor Paiva, and '50s honies Cleo Moore, Joan Taylor, and Nita Talbot.

Million-dollar Dialog:
Floozie who spots clue-hunting Ryan eyeing her ample collection of perfume bottles: "I like to stink myself up."

Bernard Herrmann's score is a huge plus and nudges the film from above-average status to very near greatness; George E. Diskant's cinematography is wonderful. And in typical RKO fashion of the time, the film sat on the shelf for a year while Howard Hughes mulled it over, finally ordering re-arrangement of scenes and bringing back Ryan and Begley to film a new scene condemning police brutality, as well as a tacked-on more-positive fadeout sequence. Doesn't matter, the film still works.

Balcony pal Glenn Erickson (the DVD Savant) provides informative commentary, and the trailer is included. The new BD is Highly Recommended.