On Dangerous Ground

ON DANGEROUS GROUND (1952)

On Dangerous Ground

Make up your mind to be a cop, not a gangster with a badge.

There’s a chilling moment in Nicolas Ray’s tough, contemplative noir On Dangerous Ground where detective Jim Wilson is beating the confession out of a suspect, connecting punch after punch, pleading with him, “Why do you make me do it?!” He’s internalized the brutality and depravity his job has exposed him to until it’s become second nature. It’s a violently tangible performance delivered by Robert Ryan (Act of Violence), and under the expressive direction of Ray, his character undergoes something like a spirit quest out in the mountains. On Dangerous Ground offers heaps of grit and haymakers, but also a flood of compassion towards its lineup of riff raff.

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