Movie review: Cry Danger (1951)

What did I watch? The 1951 crime thriller Cry Danger, starring Dick Powell and Richard Erdman.

Is it like The Boy Who Cried Wolf? But, about Danger? It’s about a guy who was blamed for danger, and then danger follows him!

How much crying is there? Very little? But there’s drama and weight and sad choices with sad endings for people who fall in love.

Dick Powell is Rocky, a man who is let out of a life prison sentence after five years because an ol’ Marine pal (Erdman) came forward to provide an alibi for Rocky. Rocky was blamed for a bank heist that resulted in the death, with his friend Danny still in the hoosegow, presumably just as innocent. Thing is, as Rocky knows and as the police suspect, Rocky doesn’t know Erdman, and Erdman admits that he lied to get Rocky out of prison and then, assuming Rocky is guilty, hang around Rocky until Rocky reveals where the money is.

Rocky doesn’t know, but he suspects who set him up those five years ago, and as Erdman hounds Rocky, Rocky hounds a local mobster bookie he suspects as being the real culprit. The bookie tries setting Rocky up financially, and also for other crimes, and Rocky finds himself having to protect a number of people who seem ready to capitalize on his pain but are innocent, and people who love him but know the truth about who set him up.

Is it Noir? It’s got a bittersweet ending, that’s for sure. It’s both a crime mystery where bad things happen to good people and justice is served at the expense of Rocky’s future with those he loves.

Is it good? I’m writing these without specific spoilers because I fell for it all hook like & sinker. There’s not much to make fun of here: it’s short so there’s no time wasted between the set ups and payoffs, the acting is terrific, you feel for everyone even though Erdman’s character is a sleazy misogynist. Rocky is a man hardened by prison and on the edge of letting those he suspects have it, ready to pull the trigger instead of walking away from everything now that he’s free.

I watched this on the youtube but I can’t seem to find the link – I’m not sure if it’s public domain. Give it a whirl if you find it.

There’s a lot of great talent in this movie, but I mention Erdman beyond just Dick Powell because you and I might know him as Leonard from Community.

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