Blind -- United States -- Drama, City and country life -- United States -- Drama, Murder -- Investigation -- United States -- Drama, Police psychology -- United States -- Drama

On Dangerous Ground


Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond, Ed Begley,

Nicholas Ray’s study of the vigilante mentality is here personified in one pent-up, brutalizing cop. Ray pegs the impulse toward vengeance, like that of forgiveness, as a personal moment, even when it belongs to the crowd. Robert Ryan’s Jim Wilson is a particular kind of big-city neurotic, tortured by his cheerless existence. On the streets, he is judge and jury: we are all guilty of being human. Wilson is banished temporarily to Twin Peaks country, where a mentally disturbed killer is being protected by his sister (Ida Lupino), and the townsfolk, led by a murdered girl’s father (Ward Bond), are out for blood. Lupino plays a blind woman; we hear her before we see her, and the deep resonance of her voice alters the tone of the film. She becomes seer to Ryan’s cop who can’t close his eyes. Set to a Bernard Herrmann score, the glistening urban noir gives way to a moody snowscape where understanding and redemption come, as always in these fatalistic films, a few heartbeats too late.

Judy Bloch
  • A. I. Bezzerides
Based On
  • the novel Mad with Much Heart by Gerald Butler

  • George E. Diskant
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 82 mins
  • Warner Bros.

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The cinema is Nicholas Ray (program note), Cinematheque Ontario/a division of Toronto International Film Festival Group, James Quandt, 2003

Ida Lupino: a reel woman (press release), Pacific Film Archive, Judy Bloch, 1992

[On dangerous ground] (review), Village Voice, Tom Allen, 1988

Ida Lupino in a new light (program note), Art Institute of Chicago. Film Center, Barbara Scharres, 1987

A reference guide to the American film noir, 1940-1958 -- excerpt (book excerpt), Scarecrow Press, Robert Ottoson, 1981

The films of Nicholas Ray (program note), Pacific Film Archive, 1973

On dangerous ground (review), Variety, Brog., 1951

On dangerous ground (review), Motion Picture Herald, C.J.L., 1951

[On dangerous ground] (distributor materials), 1951

Ida Lupino: actress and director (program note), National Film Theatre (London, England)

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