Cry Danger (1951)

“Powell’s on the Prowl! He plays it on the level until he meets a double-crossing gal!” Maybe it’s because of his early acting career as a song and dance man in such films as Footlight Parade (1933) but I can’t entirely buy into Dick Powell as a tough ex-con named “Rocky Mulloy” who’s out to get a little revenge after he serves a five-year stint in prison for a an armed robbery he didn’t commit. However, with his laid-back demeanor and rapid fire one-liners, Powell definitely has a lot of fun with the role and he sure gets a kick out of tormenting rotund, small-time hood “Louie Castro” (William Conrad). Rocky hangs out in this shabby trailer park with “Delong” (Richard Erdman), his booze-soaked, ex-Marine sidekick (“Occasionally I always drink too much …”) with a wooden leg – the guy who provided the alibi that set him free. He also sparks up a relationship with old flame “Nancy Morgan” (Rhonda Fleming), the wife of his best friend “Danny,” who’s still serving a life sentence for the same crime. All hell breaks loose when Castro tries to set Rocky up by providing him with some (stolen) cash to bet on a fixed horse race. Rocky returns the favor by forcing Castro to play a game of Russian roulette to get him to turn over some of the missing $100,000 from the robbery. Directed by Robert Parrish, this fast-paced, low-budget film noir, which was filmed in just 22 days, also stars Regis Toomey, Jean Porter, Jay Adler and Joan Banks. Joseph F. Biroc (It’s a Wonderful Life) served as cinematographer. Useless Trivia: Parrish (1916-95) shared a Film Editing Oscar with Francis Lyon for Body and Soul (1947).

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