“ON DANGEROUS GROUND”

It’s always  a pleasure to watch ON DANGEROUS GROUND, directed by Nicholas Ray and starring Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan. The story of a hard bitten,self destructive big city detective who finally finds  meaning to his life when he meets a blind girl who lives far away from the brutal world he works in.

 

I only recently got the blu-ray dvd of the film which includes a commentary by film historian and critic, Glenn Erickson whose website is http://cinesavant.com.

As this is one of my favourite films and I have been following Glenn Erickson for a while, I decided to take the time and listen to what he had to say about this film.

Erickson makes the observation that “On Dangerous Ground is a character study.”  The story of a big city police detective Jim Wilson(Robert Ryan) who has  been beaten down by the sleazy world he inhabits. He’s disillusioned with the human race. Unlike his two partners, Pop Daly ( Charles  Kemper) and  Pete Santos (Anthony Ross), he has no family to go home to at the end of the day, no life outside of the job.

He’s become a violent and dangerous cop and is finally sent out of town to investigate the murder of a young  girl .

He meets a blind woman,’Mary Malden’ (Ida Lupino) whose young  brother is the killer.

He has to deal with the bereaved father of the girl,  ’Walter Brent ‘ (Ward Bond). The farmer just wants to find  the killer and shoot him. The reversal of character is neatly done – Ryan is now the one having to restrain someone who is out for blood.

Glenn’s commentary is full of detail, about the film’s origins, the cast, the music, the director,Nicholas Ray.

Glenn points  out that the film’s writer, A.I Bezzerides is in one scene in the film, as the sleazy bar owner who tries to bribe Robert Ryan.

A.I.Bezzerides

Glenn Erickson was involved in the restoration of the original ending of KISS ME DEADLY ( for which Bezzerides also wrote the screenplay), and he was able to speak on the phone with the writer in the 1990s.

Two of Bezzerides’ novels, “The Long Haul”and “Thieves Market” were filmed as THEY DRIVE BY NIGHT and THIEVES HIGHWAY, with Bezzerides penning the screenplays.

We’re told about the complicated production history. Being an RKO film, Howard Hughes involved himself and tinkered with the film for nearly two years before release in January 1952.

In December 1949, Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino were assigned by the studio. Apparently Nicholas Ray wasn’t consulted about Ida’s casting. The working title was DARK HIGHWAY ( and I found a still showing this title.)

On Dangerous Ground was based on a 1946 book, “Mad With Much Heart” by an English  crime writer Gerald Butler who had also written “Kiss The Blood of My Hands” which became a film with Burt Lancaster. Glenn makes comparisons with the book and indicates how much of the source material was used.

The character played in the film by Ward Bond is ‘Walter Bond’ in the book. He becomes ‘Walter Brent’ in the film.

 

Composer Bernard Herrmann completed his score in a month and then orchestrated and conducted the orchestra, thus keeping tight control of his music. Some of the exciting music anticipated elements of “North By Northwest”.

 

Charles Kemper

Sad to hear that Charles Kemper who plays ‘Pop Daley’ was killed in a car accident two days after filming finished. Kemper appeared in SCARLET STREET, WHERE DANGER LIVES and YELLOW SKY.

 

After a trade showing in November 1951. Variety said it was like two movies grafted together. It had a lookwarm reception on general release, but its reputation has grown over the years.

I enjoyed listening to Glenn Erickson’s commentary which he did in 2006 when On Dangerous Ground was released as part of the box set,Film Noir 3. The film was restored and released again in  2016.

I’d like to ask Glenn if he would make any changes to his narration from 12 years ago. Also, does he believe stories that Ida Lupino directed some scenes when Nicholas Ray was ill.

In addition to a film commentary, I’d also like reviewers to be able to pause the film at various points and comment on individual scenes .

 

Robert Ryan, Anthony Ross

The solid cast included Anthony Ross  as the very believable cop who tries to reign in his partner, Robert Ryan.

 

Richard Irving

In only one scene in the film, Richard Irving is riveting as the small time hood whom detective Wilson will beat up to get information on the murder of a fellow cop. This scene alone could be studied for its camera work and lighting and Ray’s inspired direction.

Richard Irving had been in a string of small parts (he played pilots in both Armored Car Robbery and Road Block), and finally gave up acting after making one more film. He then became a successful TV director/producer.

 

Robert Ryan, Ward Bond, Ida Lupino

Surprising that top billed Ida Lupino doesn’t appear till the film shifts from the urban to the rural setting, half an hour in. Ida was negotiating with RKO for the distribution of her new company ‘s independent films, so perhaps she agreed to do On Dangerous Ground to encourage RKO’s cooperation. Just speculation on my part.

 

Adding much to the look of the film is the two week shoot in Granby Colorado in the Rocky Mountains. The snow scenes add so much to the stark atmosphere of the hunt for the boy. Local residents were paid $55 for speaking one line, and $10 daily for stand-ins.

Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan.

 

Nicholas Ray

 

Nicholas Ray, Robert Ryan

 

Sumner Williams (Nicholas Ray’s nephew) ,Nicholas Ray, Ida Lupino

 

My blu Ray of the film came via HMV’s Premium Collection which wrongly claimed “First Time On Blu -Ray”.  (The restored film was released on region free  blu-Ray in 2016).

It contained the blu-Ray,  digital copy and 4 postcards and a mini poster. And was part of a two for £15 sale.

Of all the advertising for the film, this image below could  surely have been bettered. The image of Ida Lupino is nothing like her character in the film.

 

The other blu-Ray I got in the 2 for £15 was DARK PASSAGE, which had a dvd as well as the blu-Ray disc, plus four postcards but no poster.

 

 

Limited edition art cards.

 

The four cards for Dark Passage.

And if anyone is interested in the origins of the book’s title, “Mad With Much Heart”, it comes from a poem by John Donne( 1572-1631) called “The  Dream” which ends with:

”Fill’d with her love, may I rather grown

Mad with much heart, than idiot with none.”

 

 

 

JOHN FORD AND “WHAT PRICE GLORY”

Ward Bond, Maureen O’Hara, Gregory Peck

When  I  came across the above photo it led  me into an interesting story about John Ford and  the play/film “What Price Glory”.

John Ford was obviously a fan of the 1924 comedy/drama, “What Price Glory” by Maxwell Anderson and Laurence Stallings. After a successful run on Broadway, it was filmed by Raoul Walsh in 1926, with Edmund Lowe , Victor McLaglen and Dolores Del Rio.

The play tells the story of the rivalry between two U.S. marine corps officers in France during the First World War.

Gregory Peck, John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara, Pat O’Brien, Ward Bond.

Possibly with a view to filming it, Ford put  together a group of his Hollywood friends and staged ‘What Price Glory’ in 1949 , with Pat O’Brien and Ward Bond as the two leads, plus Maureen O’Hara as the French girl they fight over.

The play was first seen at the Masquers Club Of Hollywood, with profits to charity.

The play subsequently toured California with a changing cast including Gregory Peck, Oliver Hardy, Alan Hale, Wallace Ford, Pat O’Brien, Rod Cameron, Forrest Tucker.

What a cast. In addition to O’Brien, Bond  and O’Hara in the lead roles, others in the cast included John Wayne, Harry Carey Jr, William Lundigan, Ed Begley, Wallace Ford, Oliver Hardy, Jimmy Lyndon, Robert Armstrong and Gregory Peck!

 

Then In 1952, Ford did a film version, but couldn’t get Wayne or Maureen O’Hara for the leads. James Cagney, Dan Dailey and Corinne Calvert stepped in , but reviews suggest the 1926 silent version was better.

 

 

James Cagney, Dan Dailey.

 

If anyone has seen either film, I’d be interested to hear from you.

 

I hadn’t heard of the Masquers Club of Hollywood which started in 1925 as an Actors club. Many  famous names in Hollywood joined and they often put on shows and made several film shorts including “The Stolen Jewels” in 1931, featuring Norma Shearer, Irene Dunne, Joan Crawford. Edward G. Robinson.

 

 

A 1968 Masquers dinner for Edward G.Robinson. James Stewart, Richard Widmark, George Burns, Cesar Romero and Mervyn LeRoy.

Other testimonial dinners were given for Mae West in 1973 and Ginger Rogers in 1979.

 

Judy Garland was honoured by the Masquers in 1958 .

 

Membership declined in later years and the club has been resurrected as a historical society. An Anthony Caruso Award for achievement in film history and preservation is to be started. (Caruso was a long time Masquer.)

Anthony Caruso.

It is hoped to digitise  the club’s archives which include the personal records of producer Harry Joe Brown and actor Allyn  Joslyn. Plus an audio of Judy Garland’s speech in 1958 ( the audio is now available on the website.)

(www.masquersclub.org)

XMAS MOVIES❣️

Lucille Bremer,Margaret O’Brien, Judy Garland. MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS.

This looks like an on-the-set photo. Lots of laughs. Is that Mary Wickes in background.

 

Well known as ‘Kris Kringle’ in MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, here’s Edmund Gwenn.

 

Thomas Mitchell also played Kris Kringle in a 1955 TV version of the film.

 

Bing and Fred in the film where we first heard Irving Berlin’s ‘White Christmas.

 

Bing Crosby, Virginia  Dale, Marjorie Reynolds, Fred Astaire.HOLIDAY INN.

That shot of Marjorie Reynolds  is sometimes mistaken for Ginger Rogers.

Marjorie Reynolds and Virginia  Dale were surprise costars for Astaire and Crosby. Neither had major roles in ‘A’ films before or after Holiday Inn. Mary Martin was listed as a possible signing for this film.

Marjorie was dubbed by Martha Mears in the film. I’d like to see her 1944 film, UP IN MABEL’S ROOM, with Dennis O’Keefe and Gail Patrick. She played William Bendix’s wife for 5 years in TV’s “The Life of Riley” (1953-58).

 

Bing Crosby, Vera-Ellen, Rosemary Clooney, Danny Kaye in WHITE CHRISTMAS.

 

CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT.

 

Alistair Sim, perfect as ‘Scrooge’ in A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

 

News to me, but Samuel Goldwyn wasn’t happy with the box office of THE BISHOP’S WIFE. He retitled it CARY AND THE BISHOP’S WIFE for some American markets. Adding Cary’s name added 25% to business!

“Have you heard about CARY AND THE BISHOP’S WIFE?”

According to AFI.com, Cary Grant was originally cast as the Bishop and David Niven as the angel ‘Dudley’, but the roles were reversed.

 

CELEBRATING LYNN BARI

    Lynn Bari

Born on this day in 1913, tall and sultry Lynn Bari is for me one of these performers who should have been a  bigger star.

In films as early as 1933, Lynn spent quite a few years in uncredited parts before getting a contract with Fox where she stayed for 12 years.

She was adept in drama or comedy, yet Fox never groomed her for top stardom.

I haven’t seen half of her output but always appreciated her talent .

With Barbara Stanwyck in “Always Goodbye.”

 

With Lloyd Nolan in “Charter Pilot”.

Lynn and Lloyd were in four films together. i’ve Seen PIER 13 and SLEEPERS WEST. They made a good team.

 

 

 

With a young Dana Andrews and Jon Hall as KIT CARSON (1940).

 

 

With George Sanders In THE FALCON TAKES OVER . This film was based on Raymond Chandler’s “Farewell My Lovely”, with the Falcon substituting for Philip Marlowe. It would take RKO another two years to try again with the story and get it right with MURDER MY SWEET with Dick Powell.

The Falcon Takes Over is an ok entry in the Falcon series, but like early versions of The Maltese Falcon, chose to take a lighter tone with the material.

 

 

With John Payne and Alice Faye In HELLO FRISCO HELLO.

 

With Edward G. Robinson In TAMPICO (1944)

 

With Fred MacMurray In CAPTAIN EDDIE (1945)

 

With Randolph Scott. HOME SWEET  HOMICIDE (1946)

 

One  of my favourite Bari films, she has a substantial role in this Raft picture,playing  a character whom Raft falls,for even though he’s not sure if she’s a murderer.

 

Lynn’s second husband was Sid  Luft who went on to marry Judy Garland.

 

I’d love to see the 12 episode TV series Lynn starred in ,BOSS LADY (1952), costarring Glenn Langan. No sign of it on You Tube.

 

 

This 500 page biography by Jeff Gordon was published in 2010 and got excellent reviews. The paperback edition came out this year and I have just ordered it. The author had a long correspondence with Lynn in the years prior to her death in 1989 and he was also in contact with friends and relatives, including her son John Luft.

CAPRA ON THE TRACKS

The script of IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE has been painted onto station platforms from London to Glasgow as part of a mental health festive campaign.

The initiative was developed by Virgin Trains’ charity partner, Rethink  Mental Illness.  Over several weeks,  4.5 miles of words of the film’s script have been stencilled in bright yellow paint on ten rail stations and include details of how to seek help from the charity .

Starting at London’s Euston station and including Birmingham, Liverpool, Preston, Carlisle and Glasgow, 15,000 words of the entire script now appear on platforms.

Glasgow  Central station has the final lines in the film of Robert Burns’ “Auld Lang  Syne”.

 

 

 

 

Virgin Trains are screening the film throughout December on their trains.

Ward Bond, Frank Faylen.

 

James Stewart, Gloria Grahame

 

Donna Reed, James Stewart