Tuesday, February 9, 2010

All the Lonely People, Where Do They All Come From: On Dangerous Ground

On Dangerous Ground (1952) - Ray
**This review contains spoilers

Jim Wilson (Robert Ryan) is a hardened city cop with loose hands. He's seen all the angles from all sides and sick of it all. He's a true rage-aholic. After beating up another suspect to get the leads, he is sent upstate to help out a murder case of a young girl until things cool down. The small snowy town is in uproar. The father of the murdered girl, blinded by rage, takes law into his own hands and in pursuit of the suspect. Wilson reluctantly joins in the manhunt and it leads the odd couple into a cabin of a lonely blind woman (Ida Lupino) who turns out to be the sister of the suspect.

All this hard hitting daylight noir setting is just a backdrop for a Nick Ray drama about loneliness. Ray is skillful setting Wilson up from the beginning as a family-less man on the brink of losing his soul. He also brings out pity and admiration with many close ups of beautiful Lupino. Ray knew back then, that the loneliness is a universal disease that affects everyone - a cop, screenwriter, disaffected youth... On Dangerous Ground is subtle and quietly moving except for the ending which succumbs to cliché. The voice overs at the end and the happy ending was corny and too conclusive, leaving nothing to the audience to mull over.

This is how I would've ended the film after the climax:
*shooting script

Wilson is driving down the snow swept highway. He accelerates as if he is running away from something. After a while he pulls over to the curb. From the bird's eye view, we see his car slowly coming to a halt. Wilson sits there in the car for the longest time. Then he slowly gets out.

He closes the car door and looks around. Not a soul in sight but a barren wintry landscape. We pan three sixty on the barren surroundings and stop at Wilson's face. His expression is serious as always, but with a glimpse of quiet determination(?)

Cut to wide:
Wilson standing alone in the snow swept highway.
Eleanor Rigby starts to play and the credits roll.


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