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On Dangerous Ground (1951)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 1952 (UK)
2:10 | Trailer

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Rough city cop Jim Wilson is disciplined by his captain and is sent upstate, to a snowy mountain town, to help the local sheriff solve a murder case.


, (uncredited)


(screen play) (as A. I. Bezzerides), (based on an adaptation of the novel) | 2 more credits »



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Complete credited cast:
Pete Santos
Sheriff Carrey
Sumner Williams ...
Danny Malden
Gus Schilling ...
Mrs. Brent
Richard Irving ...
Bernie Tucker
Patricia Prest ...
Julie Brent (as Pat Prest)


Hard, withdrawn city cop Jim Wilson roughs up one too many suspects and is sent upstate to help investigate the murder of a young girl in the winter countryside. There he meets Mary Malden, whom he finds attractive and independent. However, Mary's brother is chief suspect in the killing. And Mary herself is blind. Written by Jeremy Perkins <jwp@aber.ac.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In One Strange Night she met both LOVE ... and MURDER!


Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

1952 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Dark Highway  »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Opening credits: The characters and events depicted in this photoplay are fictional. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. See more »


Wilson & the Sheriff are stopped on the bridge discussing the crime. When the car begins to move, a reflector known as a "Shiny Board" can be seen in the reflection of the side window. It's clear enough to see it's the "Soft Side" of the board being used. See more »


Mary Malden: [approvingly, to Jim] When you talk to me there's no pity in your voice.
See more »


Featured in The Rules of Film Noir (2009) See more »


Jumpin' Jive
Music by Roy Webb and Gene Rose
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User Reviews

The Big Thaw
9 May 2002 | by See all my reviews

The Nicholas Ray-A.I. Bezzerides On Dangerous Ground is a modestly budgeted film that tries to be different, and succeeds. Tough, brutal city cop Robert Ryan is sent upstate to help solve a murder case, and also to be got rid of, since he seems to be on the verge of mental breakdown. Along the way he runs into a blind woman, the father of the murdered teen, and a few locals. This is the bare bones of the story, such as it is, which on the surface appears mundane. But writer Bezzerides and director Ray were up to other things, and the crime picture trappings of this film are deceptive. The movie is really about that most modern of issues, alienation, and more generally, anomie, the feeling of displacement, namelessness, uselessness, that so many people have in such a fast-paced and mechanized society as ours. Ryan's character is a solitary, apparently celibate cop, who loves no one, and doesn't even like his job. He has a sense of morality, which is maybe what keeps him going. It also, alas, gets him into hot water with his superiors when he punches out one too many suspects, which is the reason for his being sent upstate, to Siberia, as he puts it. Ida Lupino, the blind woman he falls for, is equally isolated, but more serene. Her intuition tells her that Ryan is far more sensitive than he seems (or even understands), and they become close (but not lovers). She represents his good side, the part of him he has repressed all these years. Ward Bond, as the vengeful father of the murder victim, is like a caricature of Ryan, and also skeptical of him as a "city cop", as he puts it.

There's much to recommend in this film. Bernard Hermann's music is excellent. Ray's handling of the chase scenes in the snow, and his evocation of a small rural community, is masterful. The movie seems a little too short to me, for what it's trying to do, and at times spreads itself too thin. It's at various points a crime film, a romance, a mystery, an action picture and a psychological study. The actors, Ryan in particular, are outstanding. No one could play a brooding loser like he could. His emotional outbursts early on feel almost psychotic. Later, mellowed out in the frozen north (irony of ironies!), his vulnerable side begins to emerge, and he becomes sympathetic to us, and eventually empathetic toward the woman. One senses his cluelessness about what's happening in him emotionally, as we, the audience, get it, and he doesn't. He's almost fragile trying to deal with tender feelings, especially since if he messes up or things go wrong he can't very well punch his way out of this one.

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