Cry Danger (1951)

Jean Porter Actress Cry Danger

Update May 2014: Cry Danger is now out on a Bluray from Screen Archives.

Classic Film Noir

Cry Danger is a classic, tightly-wound noir story of an ex-convict (Dick Powell) who uses his unexpected parole to pursue the solving of the mystery of who framed him and a buddy (who is still in jail) on an armored car holdup.

Richard Erdman plays a mostly drunk ex-marine with a missing leg who provides the (bogus) alibi (and many of the film's best lines) that gets Powell's character out of prison, hoping to glom onto the convict's supposed thousands that are hidden away somewhere. Rhonda Fleming is the wife of the still-imprisoned buddy, and Jean Porter is the pick-pocket, nightclub girl who keeps ending up with the ex-marines money because he can't stay sober nor keep Porter's hands out of his pockets.

Rhonda Fleming

Actor William Conrad (later famous for the Cannon TV Show) is criminal mastermind "Castro" who has converted his many illegal activities into legitimate enterprises during the convict's years in prison. Now he finds himself up to his neck in sorting out old problems he thought long buried when he saw Dick Powell's character sent to jail.

Powell's character "Rocky" doggedly pursues finding out the truth: he knows he and his still imprisoned buddy are innocent and he owes it to himself and his jailed pal to nail the actual villains. Erdman's drunken, prosthetic-legged ex-marine is the sidekick who was hoping for just a quick payoff for providing the phony alibi that got Rocky out, and the jailed pal's wife, Nancy (Rhonda Fleming) is supportive and friendly, until it is obvious she prefers Rocky to her jailed husband.

Meanwhile "Cobb" (Regis Toomey "looks like an angel, talks like a thug") is the policeman who knows Rocky is out on a fake alibi (though he can't prove it) and wants to make sure Rocky goes back to where he belongs, and when Rocky is framed again and double-crossed by Castro, it looks like sending him back will be easy, only all the facts just don't line up right....

The film has all the slang and dark twists that make up the best of the eras noir films, and the writing is especially inventive and contains witty dialogue by the reel. Though obviously shot on a tight budget and utilizing many real Los Angeles locations, which gives the film a unique look, the material and the straight-ahead acting covers ground quickly with style and a lot of great dialogue.

Powell's Rocky is a bruised and cynical (though not nearly as much as the drunken marine sidekick) ex-con that is convinced the quickest route from A to B is to just push your way through. Powell's character is a somewhat simpler and rougher version of the Philip Marlowe character he played in another classic noir, Murder, My Sweet, from 1944.

Jean Porter, who played the cheerful pickpocket, said in an interview with film writer Tom Weaver that Dick Powell actually directed the film, but the directorship in credits is attributed to Robert Parrish.

The site Ferdy on Films tells the story of this legendary, though not often seen, 1951 film noir "Cry Danger" in which the copyright is owned by one company (Paramount) and the only good film elements are owned by another company (Warner Bros), hence no DVD edition is available (there is a long out of print VHS version). Though a restored 35 mm print is used at film festivals (the restoration effort partially funded by Rhonda Fleming, who played 'Nancy' in the film, )

Cry Danger Movie Poster

Original article 2011 | Updated October 16, 2012

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