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(The print TCM aired on January 17, 2013 was restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive with funding from the Film Noir Foundation.)
The tale of a wronged man seeking revenge, Cry Danger (1951) is a lean, mean film noir, made on a low budget in 22 days. It stars Dick Powell as Rocky Mulloy, who gets sprung from prison after serving five years of a life sentence for a robbery he says he didn't commit. From out of the blue his alibi has been confirmed by a man who says he's one of the Marines Rocky was drinking with when the robbery occurred. Only problem is that Rocky has never seen him before.
This one-legged Marine who goes by the name Delong (Richard Erdman), says he wants to help Rocky out because he figures the guy might know where the stolen money is. Rocky, wanting to return a favor, says he thinks maybe he can get a line on that money after all. The two form an alliance and rent a humble trailer at the same park where Nancy (Rhonda Fleming) lives. She was Rocky's girl once and the sparks are still flying. Nancy is also the wife of Rocky's best friend Danny who is currently serving time in jail.
Rocky wants to stay straight while clearing his name, which is made difficult by the cops trailing him. In the end, Rocky is betrayed by the last person he'd expect to turn on him, but somehow the bitterness is undercut by Joseph Biroc's bright, unblinking cinematic style, one that spends time in the seedier avenues and neighborhoods of post-war Los Angeles. Powell, a favored film noir leading man (Murder, My Sweet, Cornered, both 1945), makes an unusually resilient protagonist, one who brushes off his defeat and walks away with his name cleared and the last illusion swept from his eyes.
Biroc, whose first film as cinematographer was Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946), would follow Cry Danger with the first 3-D movie ever made, Bwana Devil (1952). As for director Robert Parrish, TimeOut film critic Chris Wicking wrote that Parrish's major theme here "is of a man seeking not so much an identity as a place to belong, and here, in his directorial debut, the theme lurks behind a low budget thriller framework...this is a fast, crisp and laconic delight." A child actor in the '30s, Parrish was an Oscar®-winning editor (Body and Soul, 1947) before turning his talents to directing.
While Dick Powell takes top acting honors as Rocky Mulloy, Richard Erdman also stands out as Delong, the war hero with a drinking problem. And William Conrad makes a great low-life villain named Louie Castro, the type of role he excelled in before crossing over to the side of law and order in his popular TV series (star of TV's Canon, 1971-76).
Producer: W.R. Frank, Sam Wiesenthal
Director: Robert Parrish
Screenplay: Jerome Cady (story), William Bowers
Cinematography: Joseph F. Biroc
Film Editing: Bernard W. Burton
Art Direction: Richard Day
Music: Paul Dunlap, Hugo Friedhofer, Emil Newman
Cast: Dick Powell (Rocky Mulloy), Rhonda Fleming (Nancy Morgan), Richard Erdman (Delong), William Conrad (Louie Castro), Regis Toomey (Detective Lt. Gus Cobb), Jean Porter (Darlene LaVonne).
BW-80m. Closed captioning.
by Emily Soares