98 user 55 critic

On Dangerous Ground (1951)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir | 1952 (UK)
2:11 | Trailer
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.


Nicholas Ray, Ida Lupino (uncredited)


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





Complete credited cast:
Ida Lupino ... Mary Malden
Robert Ryan ... Jim Wilson
Ward Bond ... Walter Brent
Charles Kemper ... Pop Daly
Anthony Ross ... Pete Santos
Ed Begley ... Capt. Brawley
Ian Wolfe ... Sheriff Carrey
Sumner Williams ... Danny Malden
Gus Schilling ... Lucky
Frank Ferguson ... Willows
Cleo Moore ... Myrna Bowers
Olive Carey ... Mrs. Brent
Richard Irving Richard Irving ... Bernie Tucker
Patricia Prest 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Hard, withdrawn city cop Jim Wilson roughs up one too many suspects and is sent upstate to help investigate the murder of a young girl in the winter countryside.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 {J-26}

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Drama | Film-Noir


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Lee J. Cobb, Albert Dekker and Howard Da Silva were all considered for the role eventually played by Ward Bond. 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 »


Capt. Brawley: Make up your mind to be a cop, not a gangster with a badge.
See more »


Referenced in Act of Violence: Dealing with the Devil (2007) See more »


Jumpin' Jive
Music by Roy Webb and Gene Rose
See more »

User Reviews

Fascinating But Uneven
17 May 2006 | by evanston_dadSee all my reviews

"On Dangerous Ground" is a strange, schizophrenic film that straddles the fence between film noir and romantic melodrama, managing to be both and neither at the same time. It has the same otherworldly quality that director Nicholas Ray frequently brought to his films, but ultimately I'm not sure whether it's successful or not.

The first half of the film finds brutal cop Robert Ryan stomping around the mean streets of a dark, brooding city, his abusive approach to meting out punishment keeping him only one small step from becoming the kind of criminal he spends his time tracking down. These early scenes are the most fascinating ones in the film, though (or maybe because) they have really nothing to do with the film's main plot and are all about developing the character of Ryan. He cruises around dark streets, the camera placed in the back seat of his car, filming the passing street as he is seeing it, his eyes reflected in the rearview mirror (Martin Scorses borrowed this kind of shot for "Taxi Driver" perhaps?) What emerges is the portrait of an isolated and lonely man barely maintaining a grip on his sanity in the midst of an insane world.

But the second half of the film dissipates the claustrophobic tension of the city environment by sending Ryan out into the country to investigate the murder of a young girl. He stumbles into the home of a blind woman (played by Ida Lupino looking like Loretta Young) and strikes up a timid romance with her, her gentleness and trustworthy nature providing just the antidote his jaded sensibilities need. Will their romance work, or are the two worlds they're from too different? There's much of interest about the portion of the film set in the country. The idea that the kind of crime traditionally reserved for the back alleys of city slums could be working its way into the great nowhere had to have been an uncomfortable idea for post-war America. And the crazed, vengeful father of the murdered girl is a far cry from the simple, kind souls we like to think people the American heartland. And Ray creates a visual interest in the country scenes as well. The harsh, barren landscape looks like the surface of the moon, no more inviting than the sinister, shadowy city streets to which it's juxtaposed.

But I got bored with the romantic plot line, and felt it was out of place in a film like this. And the ending especially didn't sit well with me. It seemed much more likely that Ryan would return to the streets he knows so well and continue his lonely existence, rather than come back to the love of a good woman in a cozy cottage in the middle of nowhere. I felt cheated, and wished that the ending could have had the guts that the rest of the film did.

A fascinating film in its own right, but a flawed one. You can't watch it and not think of the opportunities missed.

Grade: B+

10 of 13 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 98 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

1952 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Dark Highway See more »

Filming Locations:

Granby, Colorado, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

We've Got Your Streaming Picks Covered

Looking for some great streaming picks? Check out some of the IMDb editors' favorites movies and shows to round out your Watchlist.

Visit our What to Watch page

Recently Viewed