Best of… Series – 1952 – On Dangerous Ground

On Dangerous Ground (Nicholas Ray, 1952)

On Dangerous Ground centers around a cop from the city who has got himself in trouble one too many times for being too ‘persuasive’ when trying to obtain information from criminals. He is sent north to a rural town to work on a murder case. The key strength of this film is the contrast in settings. We begin in a typical noir setting of a dark city where no one can be trusted and cops work around the clock. Then, a third of the way through, we are in a snow-covered rural setting with open land and gravel roads. Oh, and all of it is beautifully shot.

The film uses a lot of obvious symbolism in regards to the protagonist’s character arch. But though it’s obvious, it’s not overwhelming and it’s done well. We see a real quiet and believable transformation. Much of the film’s finale is weak. After we finally get to see the murderer, the film really starts to go downhill. Luckily, everything up to that point is extremely solid.  8.5/10

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