Rocky Mulloy, back in town after serving 5 years of a life sentence for armed robbery, hopes to clear his friend Danny Morgan who's still in prison for the same crime. It won't be easy. Even the witness who cleared Rocky thinks he's guilty; Danny's glamorous wife Nancy, living in a sleazy trailer court, seems lukewarm about getting Danny back; cynical cop Gus Cobb just wants to stir things up in hopes that the missing "hot" $100,000 will surface. Plenty of tough talk, night scenes, deceptive dames and double crosses in this typical film noir. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
Sorely Underappreciated Masterpiece of Atmospheric Noir
Ike basically took the words out of my mouth (for which I applaud him!), but I'll pledge my love for this film anyway. I'm fairly new to film noir (started getting into the style in my mid to late teens, and now at twenty, I'm a fanatic) and while I've seen almost all of the massive hits, the films that define the genre to the critics and the movie-loving public, I've found that my personal favorites are films like these, the ones that are so obscure you just might stumble upon them on accident and find that you've unearthed a treasure trove! An undiscovered gem that is virtually ignored altogether now (and perhaps then as well), "Cry Danger" is undoubtedly in my top ten favorite film noirs of all time. Many people will chalk this up to pure foolishness or relative inexperience with the genre on my part, but before you form these opinions, let me state my case. From the first long-angled shot of this film, the richly-textured atmospheric style is laid out. Our lead character steps off a train, fresh out of the jail where he spent five years of his life paying for somebody else's crime. He looks down a long, cylindrical tunnel at the station. The exit. But the tunnel represents something else. It represents the life he left as a younger man and the life he must return to as a forsaken, middle-aged, unemployed former gangster. It represents his cloudy, uncertain future, and his clinging reluctance to meet with it. From there, we're introduced to a set of characters so shady and so thoroughly corrupted by circumstances beyond their control that the story itself must logically take place in one of the seediest, most dilapedated settings to have ever been featured as a primary backdrop in a film noir...a worn-down trailer park! Yes, it's uncharacteristically rustic and completely atypical, but that's another one of this film's charms. The cramped trailer that Dick Powell and Richard Erdman share looks like it could have easily been ground zero for a moderately large hurricane, but as this is a west-coast noir, the above theory can be easily disputed. Beyond the trailer park lie villainous clip-joints and a non-descript deli which houses some mysterious vanishing bookies. Every civilian is a potential thug and every cop is on their payroll! The beauty of this film isn't necessarily the plot, as others have pointed out, even though I am certainly intrigued by the dilemma of our hero and the resolution of the story should be fairly unexpected. But the real reason to watch this film is for all the little things. So many fine details woven together to form a tapestry that, taken as a whole, makes for a really fun rainy-day noir caper! Dick Powell is awesome as a basically decent guy who's been set-up and screwed over one time too many. Richard Erdman really deserves glowing praise for his portrayal of a wise-cracking, one-legged ex-Marine (who lives in a trailer park! See why you should rent this right away?!?!). I've seen Erdman in a few things (most notably "Stalag 17" and "The Twilight Zone") and this film is the perfect vehicle to showcase his understated, cynical stage presence and his emphatic, cooly-paced and bitingly sardonic delivery. An underappreciated actor who really brings it to this role. All in all, this film is too smart and too cynical to win any awards, but if you enjoy a truly sinister noir with some very unique settings and memorable performances, "Cry Danger" just may be that film. All negative criticisms aside, see this and decide for yourself. I think you'll be glad you did!
30 of 32 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?