Another adventure into the wonderful world of Film Noir brings me to an actor I hadn’t seen before, Dick Powell. Even though I know he’s in the much praised Murder, My Sweet, I’m still to see that. So with that one and another called Pitfall lined up to thrill and excite me soon, my first encounter with Mr Powell is this one, Cry Danger, and it’s a real doozy.
Tagline – Powell’s on the Prowl!
Rocky Mulloy (Dick Powell) strolls back into Downtown Los Angeles after serving 5 years of a life sentence for armed robbery. He’s been lucky, an old war time buddy Delong (Richard Erdman) has come forward with new evidence proving Rocky’s alibi was right. The judge having no option but to release him, however he will be tailed by Police Lt. Gus Cobb (Regis Toomey). There’s the matter of what has become of the missing money from the robbery, a cool 100 thousand dollars and besides, Cobb doesn’t buy that alibi.
Rocky is a cool, charismatic and a quick witted wordsmith. He’s a tough as nails no nonsense hard man and is as happy to dish out the pain to get his answers. On taking the wrap for the robbery along with his friend Danny Morgan, whos still banged up, Rocky wants what’s owed to him. Rocky needs to put the squeeze on the mastermind behind the hit, Louie Castro (William Conrad). He wants a big payout from Castro, demanding 50 grand, Castro might look a pushover but he not so stupid.
Rocky Mulloy – “And do me a favor Castro, while I’m on the phone, try and jump me. I’d like nothing better than to give it to you in the belly.
Detective Lt. Gus Cobb and his men keep a 24 hour surveillance on Rocky as he calmly wanders around town. Checking himself into a trailer park with Delong, a man constantly on the old sauce. Delong has an eternal thirst with a keen eye for the ladies and like Rocky, he’s can’t stop the banter.
Delong – “Listen, doll girl, when you drink as much as I do, you gotta start early.”
So with a clapped out old trailer for their base and two dames in tow, one a cheeky quick fingered, party girl called Darlene (Jean Porter) and the other, Rocky’s jail mate Danny’s wife Nancy (Rhonda Fleming). Can Rocky keep one foot in front of Castro and out of the spotlight of the police? Will he be able to find the missing money or at least make a stash from Castro. Can he keep his hands off his mates gal, keep Delong off the booze and get a good night sleep in the bug infested, broken down trailer park trash?
I tell you what, this film debut by director Robert Parrish is superb in so many ways. The pace is fast, the characters have depth even in the short runtime. The story is intelligent with sharp, clever dialogue peppered throughout. Amazing camera angles, especially the opening train station arrival of Rocky. Dick Powell’s performance commands your attention and you’re with him right from the very start to the dying end. I was very impressed with Cry Danger and could see it being worthy of a modern remake in say maybe a Coen brothers style. Think it was the dialogue and narrative that kept it fresh along with Powell’s likeable but strong charm.
One shocking scene!
Within the film of many twists and turns, there are fair few violent moments just like multiple movies in the noir camp but one really stood out. In unforgiving, no mercy fashion Rocky interrogates with blunt force the use of the one bullet in a chamber, Russian Roulette Deer Hunter style. It is a brutal and thrilling scene. I wonder if it is the first time Russian Roulette had been used in a movie?
I’ve been on a noir drama mission frenzy the last few weeks, like a junky, I need my fix. Been working my way through loads and incredibly every new one I see just leads directly on to the next. There’s millions of them and what a lucky fella I am to have them all to watch. I know I’m late to the Dick Powell party so please feel free to recommend other goodies in his filmography, to push me in the right direction. And if you fancy it, let me know what you thought of this one.
Keep your eyes peeled on the 4:3 aspect ratio screens, have fun and explore. Fist bump, Mikey Wolf