Release Date: February 21st, 1951 (New York City premiere)
Directed by: Robert Parrish
Written by: William Bowers, Jerome Cady
Music by: Paul Dunlap, Emil Newman
Cast: Dick Powell, Rhonda Fleming, Richard Erdman, William Conrad, Regis Toomey, Jean Porter
RKO Radio Pictures, 79 Minutes
“Occasionally I always drink too much.” – Delong
Dick Powell has a really rugged edge to him. He’s a good looking guy and charismatic but he has this grit. So when he is in a film-noir, I definitely want to see him perform, balls to the wall, ready to go.
Powell plays Rocky Mulloy, a man fresh out of prison who was sent there for a robbery and murder that he didn’t commit. A man named Delong got Rocky released by giving a fake alibi. Delong really wants a share of the $100,000 that Rocky wasn’t involved in stealing. Rocky sets out to find who framed him and to clear his name and the name of his still imprisoned friend Danny. Rocky and Delong move into a trailer park where Danny’s wife (and former lover of Rocky’s) has been living. Rocky is also told that he will be watched 24 hours a day by police, who are waiting for him to slip up. Soon he is caught up in a plot with a criminal bookie while being pulled into a new game of deception.
The film is very straightforward with some good twists and layers to the plot that aren’t too predictable and unlike other film-noir pictures that try to throw a lot of curveballs, this one doesn’t feel convoluted or overly complicated. It just goes by like a breeze and is effective.
Powell is great at playing a no nonsense hard ass and also able to convey his emotions in regards to being heartbroken and deceived. He just has this ability to give a simple stoic look that says more than words can.
The rest of the acting is pretty good but Powell really is a step out in front of everyone else. He takes over the scene, not because he is trying to steal the spotlight but because he just has that “it” thing that the rest of the cast doesn’t have.
The cinematography is simple and clean. There’s not a lot of visual razzle dazzle but there doesn’t need to be. Everything looks good and there are no flaws sticking out like sore thumbs.
Cry Danger isn’t the best film-noir or even the best one starring Powell. However, it is still a nice, engaging picture with a short running time that gets going fast and doesn’t stop until the final frame.
It’s not a fine cocktail but it’s a smooth yet strong shot.
Pairs well with: Other noirs featuring Powell: Murder, My Sweet, Cornered and The Tall Target (which is less noir and more action thriller).