Robert Siodmak is best known for two of the greatest film noirs ever made, viz. The Killers and Criss Cross. Consequently, Cry of the City, despite being a taut, tense, morally ambiguous, and expertly photographed noir, has always existed in their shadows. This is a classic example of noirs where the terms ‘protagonist’ and ‘antagonist’ were rendered meaningless. The two opposing forces are represented by, Martin Rome (Richard Conte), an escaped convict being hunted for murdering a cop, and Lieutenant Candella (Victor Mature), a police detective obsessively pursuing him. On one hand, Rome is a conniving and unrepentant career criminal, and a dangerous role model for his gullible younger brother, while on the other, there exists a vulnerable side to him cloaked beneath his cocky veneer. In love with a young lady, chasing shady individuals with increasing desperation, weak and feverish on account of bullet wounds, and with hardly any place left to hide, he’s clearly the underdog who the audience roots for despite he being, quite unequivocally, on the wrong side of the law. Great pacing, splendid on-location photography and the menacing atmosphere, added upon the grimy setting, grim mood and unrelenting tension, making this a gripping watch, despite the familiar plot and fair share of flaws. Conte and Mature didn’t just give fine performances, their psychological duel added layers and dark underpinnings to the proceedings. The film also comprised of some memorable sequences – particularly, Rome’s nail-biting escape from a make-shift jail, and his fascinating interactions with a slimy, double-faced lawyer and a menacing masseuse. The film’s bleak underlying commentary on the corrupt and deeply unjust urban society, too, was noteworthy.
Director: Robert Siodmak
Genre: Film Noir/Crime Thriller/Police Detective Film