Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… On Dangerous Ground (1951)

We now have one last noir for the month of “Noir-vember,” and that would be the 1951 film On Dangerous Ground, starring Ida Lupino and Robert Ryan!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pinkfinger (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 15 seconds)

The Pink Panther takes on a ring of spies. Bit of fun, with the narrator prompting the Panther to take on various spies. No doubt a reflection on the popularity of the then-recent James Bond films. A lot of fun here, and one of the more memorable Pink Panther cartoons (at least for me)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Detective Jim Wilson (Robert Ryan), along with his partners Bill “Pop” Daly (Charles Kemper) and Pete Santos (Anthony Ross), are hunting down a pair of cop killers. Jim is getting increasingly frustrated, and when they find one of the killers’ accomplices, he really roughs him up to find out their location. The next day, Jim is summoned by Captain Brawley (Ed Begley), who warns him to cut out the rough stuff, as the accomplice’s lawyer is threatening to sue. Later that night, Jim and his partners are cruising the streets when they find a few thugs beating up a woman. Jim catches up to one of them and starts to rough him up before being stopped by one of his partners. Captain Brawley is less than thrilled to hear about this, and assigns Jim a murder investigation in a more rural area up north until things calm down. Jim drives up north, and he meets up with Sheriff Carey (Ian Wolfe), who directs him to the Brent family home. Jim tries to find out what he can about the girl who was murdered, when her father, Walter Brent (Ward Bond), comes in and makes everyone stop talking. They receive word that the murderer has been sighted, and they all go off in pursuit. Jim ends up with Walter (who is less than thrilled to be stuck with a city cop, since he wants to shoot the murderer himself), and they borrow someone else’s car when the murderer steals another one. When the snow starts really coming down, they end up crashing, not far from the car they were following. On foot again, they find a lone farmhouse. Inside, they meet Mary Malden (Ida Lupino), who tells them nobody is there. Jim quickly realizes that she is blind, and tries to be kind to her. They quickly realize she is not the only one who has been there, and she tells them her brother, Danny (Sumner Williams), also lives there, but is not there currently. Walter doesn’t believe her, and he, along with Jim, start looking around outside. Jim comes back in, and learns that her brother is there, but has a mental illness. She believes that her brother should turn himself in, but to Jim, as Walter is angry enough to kill her brother. Jim is convinced by her, and tries to promise to keep Danny safe. Before anything else can happen, Walter comes back in, and Mary offers the two of them a place to stay overnight. In the morning, Mary sneaks outside to the storm cellar, where Danny is hiding, and tries to convince him to go along with Jim. After she leaves, Jim stops her, and Danny makes a run for it. With Walter hot on their heels, the question remains: as much as Jim has come to care for Mary in such a short time, can he manage to save Danny, or will Walter’s thirst for revenge win out?

On Dangerous Ground was based on the novel Mad With Much Heart by Gerard Butler. Director Nicholas Ray came across it while he was working on another project, and it was submitted as something for him to work on later. However, some of the readers at RKO studios didn’t think it was suitable for filming. Still, producer John Houseman was able to secure the rights for the story, especially when actor Robert Ryan expressed interest in the role. There was some discussion with the police departments in Los Angeles and Boston, who were pleased to see the idea of police violence would be treated openly. Originally, the film’s ending was supposed to be a bit more of a downer, but actors Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino were able to convince the director to give the movie a happier ending.

I’ve only had the opportunity so far to see this movie twice, but it has been one I’ve enjoyed seeing both times. I’m really impressed with Robert Ryan’s performance here as a cop going bad. We see how, unlike his partners who have a life apart from their jobs, he takes his work home with him, and, in so doing, gets more and more of a bad impression of the world (not helped by all the people complaining to his face about what the cops are doing). We see him getting bad, and we also see the police captain trying to sweep the problem under the rug by having him go elsewhere. And that idea almost backfires, with Ward Bond’s character complaining about him being a city cop, as he seeks his own vengeance, while Robert Ryan’s Jim does little to stop him (at first). It’s only luck that he meets Ida Lupino’s Mary, who gets him to soften back up and be human again. And Robert Ryan isn’t the only good actor here, as everybody does their part well (including director Nicholas Ray’s nephew Sumner Williams as Danny, whose actions seem too relevant today, especially to the many women who complain, and rightfully so, about men wanting them to “smile” to be more beautiful). It’s not my absolute favorite noir, but it’s a good one, and I certainly would recommend it!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Now, before I sign off, in case you’re wondering, since I have been reviewing noirs for the month of November every Sunday for the last few years (and yet, as I said before, this is the last one I’m reviewing for this month, even though there is one Sunday left), my plan is to start in on the Christmas holiday films starting next week. If I don’t, I would otherwise only have three Sundays to work with in December before the holiday itself, and, since it will be past Thanksgiving anyways, I figured I would start in and still get in my four films for the year!

Film Length: 1 hour, 22 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – Ida Lupino

The Sky’s The Limit (1943) – Robert Ryan – The Tall Men (1955)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… King Of Kings (1961)

Well, it’s Easter now, and what better way to celebrate it than with the classic 1961 biblical epic King Of Kings!

In 63 B.C., the Roman armies, led by General Pompey, conquer Jerusalem. After that, the Jewish people continue to rebel against Roman rule, resulting in Herod the Great being placed on the Judean throne. At that time, Jesus is born in Bethlehem, but escapes before Herod sends his soldiers to kill Him. Years later, Pontius Pilate (Hurd Hatfield) arrives to become the governor. With Pilate’s arrival, two different things happen: 1) Pilate is attacked by a group of Jewish fighters, led by Barabbas (Harry Guardino) and Judas Iscariot (Rip Torn), and 2) John the Baptist (Robert Ryan) starts preaching and baptizing in the wilderness, with one of his baptisms including a now-grown Jesus (Jeffrey Hunter). Barabbas’ attack is foiled by the arrival of Herod Antipas (Frank Thring) with his own troops (although Barabbas gets away), and Jesus goes into the wilderness for forty days. Upon returning, Jesus recruits His disciples, including Judas. Judas convinces Barabbas to try listening to Jesus, but he disagrees with Jesus’ message of peace. Meanwhile, Herod Antipas has arrested John the Baptist, and has him beheaded at the behest of his stepdaughter Salome (Brigid Bazlen). After preaching throughout Judea, Jesus comes to Jerusalem, which Barabbas uses as an opportunity to try attacking the Romans. However, the Roman troops are prepared for the attack and massacre the people (and capture Barabbas). This forces Judas to betray Jesus in the hopes that He will use His power to defeat the Romans.

Ok, let’s get one quick and very obvious point out of the way. Being a movie about the life of Christ, from His birth to His death and resurrection, obviously this movie qualifies as both a Christmas movie and an Easter one. Phew. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s talk about this movie. Obviously, it’s not completely accurate according to the Bible and history. The movie makes Barabbas out to be a Zealot, fighting for Israel’s freedom from Roman rule, with Judas Iscariot helping him (and making that his motive for turning Jesus in to the priests instead of greed like the Gospel of John indicates). Still, in spite of the differences, it’s an interesting way to look at it, giving us two men, Jesus and Barabbas, as potential messiahs, depending on how the people of the time were interpreting the Scriptures, since I know the Jewish people of the time were looking to get out from under Roman rule and weren’t as likely to prefer Jesus’ message of peace as much.

When it comes down to my actual opinion of this movie, I really like it! I’ll admit, from my own movie-watching experience, I don’t recognize most of the cast, outside of Orson Welles as the narrator and Robert Ryan as John The Baptist (and I didn’t even know who he was the first time I saw this movie either). I think Jeffrey Hunter does a great job as Jesus, and the rest of the cast supports him well, too! The only part of the movie I struggle with is the “trial” before Pilate leading up to the crucifixion. For me, that’s when Jeffrey Hunter’s performance fails a little. Some things I get, like how violence is portrayed, and I certainly respect the decision not to show Jesus being tortured (even though, in some respects, seeing what He went through is supposed to mean a lot in the grand scheme of things). But I do struggle with the idea that, for all He was supposed to have gone through, this Jesus is barely bloodied up when He comes to the cross (and it just seems like He was in better shape than He should have been when He had to walk the last part). Still, minor gripes aside, I do enjoy this movie, especially with the beautiful score by Mikos Rozsa! It just helps this movie so much, and, especially at this time of the year (or Chirstmastime, too), I have no trouble whatsoever recommending this movie!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Home Video, and is two hours, fifty-one minutes in length.

My Rating: 9/10

Audience Rating:

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Tall Men (1955) – Robert Ryan

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2019) with… The Tall Men (1955)

Well, it’s February 1 again, so let’s celebrate Clark Gable’s birthday with another one of his movies, this time the 1955 Western The Tall Men, also starring Jane Russell and Robert Ryan.

Coming into the Montana territory, brothers Ben Allison (Clark Gable) and Clint Allison (Cameron Mitchell) decide to rob Nathan Stark (Robert Ryan) of his bankroll and kidnap him to keep him from turning them in. However, once they get to a cabin where they plan to let him go (without his money), he makes them a job offer, where they could help him get a herd of cattle from Texas up to the Montana territory. They accept, and on their way to get the cattle, they run into a group of settlers stuck in a winter storm. They leave after the storm, but, upon seeing signs of Sioux Indians nearby, Ben goes back to help the settlers while Clint goes on with Nathan. When Ben gets there, the only surviving settler is Nella Turner (Jane Russell), and he helps her get away. Another storm forces them to stop in a cabin, where sparks start to fly until Ben reveals his dream of owning a ranch in Prairie Dog Creek, which differs from Nella’s dreams of a better life. When a band of soldiers come, they make their way to San Antonio, where they plan to go their separate ways. Ben helps recruit men to go on the cattle drive, and Nella runs into Nathan Stark, who ends up convincing her to go along on the cattle drive. Along the way, they have to face a militant band of Jayhawkers at the Kansas border, along with Sioux Indians on the warpath.

The Tall Men was based on a 1954 novel by Clay Fisher. Director Raoul Walsh would make good use of location shooting in Sun Valley, Idaho and the Sierra de Organos and Los Organes Valley near Durango, Mexico due at least partly to how much things had changed in both Texas and Montana in the time since the events of the story took place.

Going into this movie, my biggest reason for wanting to see it was Clark Gable, and it was well worth it (and not just because of him)! Clark does indeed give a great performance as Ben Allison, a real tough guy who takes care of his family and friends as best he can (while still being careful when dealing with those he doesn’t trust). Jane Russell is fun here, bringing some of her sass, especially as she sings “Tall Men” throughout the journey (usually within earshot of Gable’s Ben, with the lyrics changing to reflect how she feels about him at the time). The scenery is just absolutely beautiful here, and is a lot of the fun! I do admit, I enjoyed watching the cattle drive a lot, too, especially when it came down to the fight between the cattle drovers and the Sioux Indians! But, as far as Clark Gable is concerned, I think Robert Ryan’s final lines (which were about Ben Allison) are just so fitting about Clark: “There goes the only man I ever respected. He’s what every boy thinks he’s going to be when he grows up and wishes he had been when he’s an old man.” Definitely a very fun Western, and one I would highly recommend!

The movie is available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time as a limited edition with 3000 total copies available through either or The new transfer for this Blu-ray is spectacular! The colors work very well, and the detail is definitely there, allowing us to see all the wonderful scenery from the location shooting! Easily the best way to see this movie! It is also available on DVD from 20th Century Fox (although presumably with an older transfer).

Film Length: 2 hours, 2 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Mogambo (1953)Clark GableThe King And Four Queens (1956)

Underwater! (1955) – Jane Russell

On Dangerous Ground (1951) – Robert Ryan – King Of Kings (1961)

Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2018) on… The Sky’s The Limit (1943)

Fred Astaire: “Couldn’t I be the fellow who never gets his name mentioned? The one they call a friend? You know, uh, Ginger Rogers and friend?”
The Sky’s the Limit

Here we are again for another Fred Astaire musical, the 1943 movie The Sky’s The Limit, also starring Joan Leslie and Robert Benchley.

In this movie set during the second World War, Fred Astaire plays Fred Atwell, a Flying Tiger on leave for ten days. Finding himself stuck going on a personal tour due to the success of his squadron, he decides to leave and have some fun instead. Going incognito as Fred Burton, he comes to New York, where he meets Joan Manion (Joan Leslie), a photographer for Eyeful Magazine, who wants to do more than just fluff photos of celebrities at the clubs. He follows her around, and tries to ask her out on a date. At first, she resists him, but she slowly warms up to him. While out working at the canteen for servicemen, Fred runs into some of his squadron, whom he tries to convince not to tell who he is. Running into them reminds him his leave is nearly over, and of what he has to return to, so Fred decides to try helping Joan’s boss, who also has feelings for Joan.

Admittedly, this movie barely qualifies as a musical, with only three new songs from the songwriting team of Harold Arlen and Johnny Mercer. These songs include My Shining Hour, A Lot In Common With You, and One For My Baby (And One More For The Road). My Shining Hour is first sung in a nightclub, and later used as background music for a romantic duet between Fred and Joan. A Lot In Common With You is a performance from Fred and Joan at the serviceman’s canteen, where she works sometimes. One For My Baby, however, is the highlight of the movie. It’s Fred’s tap solo, and it is considered one of his best solo routines. It’s done in a bar, as he is smarting over the loss of Joan, and ends up smashing up a lot of drinking glasses and the bar’s mirror, before paying the bar owner and leaving.

The movie itself was intended as a bit of a departure for Fred. Up to this point, critics complained that he was more or less playing the same type of character, and he attempted to change that. Obviously, he is a bit of a stalker for the first part of the movie, which may bother some of the ladies, but I’d like to think he makes up for it in the second half, when he is reminded of the war he has to go back to, and tries to help her boss out. This is a wonderful movie, and one I do recommend if you have the chance to see it!

The movie is available on DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 30 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

*ranked #4 in Top 11 Movies Watched in 2018

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

You Were Never Lovelier (1942)Fred AstaireZiegfeld Follies (1945)

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – Joan Leslie – Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943)

I Married A Witch (1942) – Robert Benchley – Road To Utopia (1946)

Robert Ryan – On Dangerous Ground (1951)

Sullivan’s Travels (1941) – Eric Blore – Romance On The High Seas (1948)

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