Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Cry of the City

1948, US, directed by Robert Siodmak

This would make a great double bill with Anthony Mann's Side Street as another example of the use of urban locations as characters in their own right, although it can be quite hard to discern which are genuine New York locations and which are artful studio backdrops (in part a testament to the technical skill on display). Richard Conte is a hoodlum battling it out with cop, and fellow Italian-American, Victor Mature (the usual two sides of the same coin, grew up in the same neighborhood stuff though thankfully with no sentimental priests in sight). The focus on immigrant life is distinctive for this period -- quite a bit of Italian spoken in certain scenes, and a sense of the tension between different moralities and ways of dealing with the police is nicely drawn. The gathering storm is, as you might expect with Siodmak, expertly orchestrated and there's the usual smattering of fine compositions (though some of the camera movements caught my eye more than the light/shadow effects on this occasion). Intriguing support, too, as so often with the rich array of talent on the studio payroll: the imposing Hope Emerson as an unusual female hood (she has one especially terrific scene with Conte) and Shelley Winters in a very small role just around the time of her big break. 

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States