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Nicholas Ray
Ida Lupino, Robert Ryan, Ward Bond, Charles Kemper
Writing Credits:
AI Bezzerides

Rough city cop Jim Wilson is disciplined by his captain and is sent upstate, to a snowy mountain town, to help the local sheriff solve a murder case.

Rated NR

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
French Monaural
German Monaural
Castillian Spanish Monaural
Castillian Spanish
Latin Spanish
Supplements Subtitles:
Castillian Spanish
Latin Spanish

Runtime: 106 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 5/17/2016

• “Hold Your Breath and Cross Your Fingers” Featurette
• Vintage Bugs Bunny Short
• Trailer


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


On Dangerous Ground [Blu-Ray] (1951)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 18, 2016)

From director Nicholas Ray, 1951’s On Dangerous Ground brings us a thriller in the film noir vein. City cop Jim Wilson (Robert Ryan) uses violent tactics to get what he wants from those he apprehends, and this eventually lands him in trouble.

Wilson remains on the job, but he needs to go far from the rough and tumble city to deal with a murder. Sent to “Siberia” until matters cool down, Wilson finds himself in the wide-open countryside, where he investigates the murder of Sally Brent and prime suspect Danny Malden (Sumner Williams). This becomes more complicated because Julie’s father (Ward Bond) demands revenge – and Wilson starts to fall for Danny’s vision-impaired sister Mary (Ida Lupino).

The decision to make Mary blind creates a massive potential pitfall, especially given the romantic path the story takes. A movie like this could get sickly-sweet when love enters the narrative, but the mawkishness of the “lonely blind girl” elevates possible problems tenfold.

In Nicholas Ray’s hands, though, Ground stays focused and without exaggerated emotions. Some of this comes from the film’s slow build-up of the Wilson character.

Ground takes much longer to “exile” Wilson to the boonies than I expected, and that factor could have proved fatal. Viewers who know that Wilson will end up in the country might feel impatient to send him there, so the film’s long path to that point could make the tale drag.

Happily, it doesn’t, mainly because Ground builds Wilson so well. We follow him as he does his violent rounds, so we get a good sense of his vicious world and the psychological toll all this takes.

These moments don’t feel gratuitous. Instead, they set up Wilson as a character with clear strengths and weaknesses, and we understand what pushes him to behave as he does. We don’t excuse his brutality, but we comprehend it, and the movie turns him into a strong personality.

Wilson’s time in the country and especially his romance with Mary soften him, but not to a mushy degree. Wilson retains his rough edges even when he finds himself in love, and that darker side keeps the film away from the soppiness that could mar it.

The credit for the film’s absence of gooey sentiment goes to both Ray and the actors. Ryan certainly deserves a lot of praise for the human tone he gives to Wilson. He doesn’t make the character a cartoon sadist at his worst, and he doesn’t turn him into a love-struck goon at his best. Ryan keeps his cards close to his vest and delivers a strong performance.

Ray also ensures that drippy tendencies stay away from the screen, as even when the movie goes more sentimental at the end, it still feels like it’s on firm ground. In Ray’s hands, the characters get real strengths and weaknesses, so we neither fully adore nor loathe anyone involved. This allows the film to form a realistic tone that makes the drama more impactful.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio C-/ Bonus C+

On Dangerous Ground appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became another fine transfer from Warner Archives.

Overall sharpness seemed appealing. Virtually no unintended softness marred the presentation, so the film came across as well-defined. The movie used soft focus for Ida Lupino but that was obviously intentional. No shimmering or jaggies appeared, and edge haloes remained absent.

In terms of print flaws, I saw no issues, as the movie remained clean. Blacks came across with good depth and darkness, while shadows offered nice clarity. I felt very happy with this presentation.

Unfortunately, the movie’s DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack seemed less satisfying. Even given the film’s age, this mix seemed rough around the edges.

The primary concerns related to speech, which showed a lot of high-end roughness and sibilance. I could always understand the lines, but they seemed flawed nonetheless.

Music and effects fared better, but they also suffered from some of the harshness that impacted the dialogue. This left them with mild range and a brittle feel. For a 55-year-old movie, this wasn’t a terrible track, but it seemed below average.

In addition to the movie’s trailer, we get an audio commentary from film historian Glenn Erickson. He offers a running, screen-specific look at the source novel and its adaptation, story/characters, cast and crew, music, and various production issues.

This means Erickson covers the topics we expect from a film historian commentary. He gives us a good history for the project along with a lot of insights related to this creation. This means we find a useful chat here.

With a blind heroine and a sadistic lead in search of redemption, On Dangerous Ground threatens to become sappy and sentimental. Happily, the film avoids those problems and delivers a dark but engaging drama. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals along with an audio commentary, but sound quality seemed lackluster. Despite the problems with the audio, this becomes a good representation of an interesting tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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