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Cry of the City

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cry of the City
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRobert Siodmak
Screenplay byRichard Murphy
Ben Hecht
Based onThe Chair for Martin Rome
1947 novel
by Henry Edward Helseth
Produced bySol C. Siegel
StarringVictor Mature
Richard Conte
Fred Clark
Shelley Winters
CinematographyLloyd Ahern
Edited byHarmon Jones
Music byAlfred Newman
Color processBlack and white
20th Century Fox
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • September 29, 1948 (1948-09-29) (United States)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States

Cry of the City is a 1948 American film noir starring Victor Mature, Richard Conte, and Shelley Winters. Directed by Robert Siodmak, it is based on the novel by Henry Edward Helseth, The Chair for Martin Rome. The screenwriter Ben Hecht worked on the film's script, but is not credited. The film was partly shot on location in New York City.[1]

Siodmak later said "I thought it was good but it's not really my kind of film: I hate locations – there's so much you can't control".[2]

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Martin Rome (Richard Conte), a hardened criminal, is in a hospital room awaiting surgery for wounds he received in a shootout where he killed a police officer. At the hospital, he is visited by members of his family and his girlfriend, Teena Ricante (played by 14-year old Debra Paget), as well as by police detectives Candella (Victor Mature) and Collins (Fred Clark). The officers question Rome about a jewel robbery and murder, for which another man has already been caught and sentenced to death. Candella especially despises Rome for having turned to crime though they had been childhood friends from the same poor Italian-American neighborhood. Rome is also visited by W.A. Niles (Berry Kroeger), a shady lawyer, who attempts to coerce Rome into confessing to the jewel robbery, threatening to harm Teena. Rome reacts by trying to strangle the lawyer. Later, Rome charms his nurse, Miss Pruett (Betty Garde), into hiding Teena from Niles and the police at her own apartment.

After being transferred to the prison's hospital ward, Rome escapes with the help of a trusty (Walter Baldwin). Going to Niles' office to demand money to allow him and Teena to get away, Rome discovers the stolen jewels and makes Niles confess that the woman accomplice in the murder/robbery was a surly, heavy-set masseuse named Rose Givens (Hope Emerson). When Niles goes for a gun, Rome knifes him to death, though the resulting gunshot accidentally kills Niles' receptionist, Vera, who was listening to the conversation in the outer office. He takes the jewels, concealing them in a locker in a subway station.

Rome, feverish and exhausted, goes to his parents' apartment. Although Rome is rejected by his father, his teenage brother Tony (Tommy Cook) worships him. Their mother tells Rome he must leave, but while she is preparing him some food, Candella shows up. As he is about to search the apartment, Rome appears holding a gun. When Rome escapes, Candella has a talk with Tony, warning him about following in his brother's criminal ways.

Rome uses an old girlfriend, Brenda (Shelley Winters), to track down Rose Givens' address, but he is so weak that Brenda gets an unlicensed foreign doctor (Konstantin Shayne) to attend to him. When Brenda finally drops Rome off at Rose Givens' address, he offers to give Rose the jewels that he took from Niles' office in exchange for "five thousand dollars, a car, a way out of the country and a good night's sleep".

At the police station, Candella and Collins question people who might have helped Rome to escape from the prison hospital and after, including the trusty from the prison, the man in charge of the hospital ward, and several unlicensed doctors. One of those doctors is the veterinarian, who confesses to treating the wanted man.

Meanwhile, Rose has set out to get money and transportation for Rome, who double-crosses her by telephoning Candella to let him know that he will meet Rose at a subway station where the jewels are stored in a locker. Rome meets Rose first and demands the cash she promised, but she demands the jewels first. When the police arrive to take her, she tries to shoot Rome but wounds Candella instead.

Candella leaves the hospital where he was being treated to look for Teena, who might lead him to Rome. He discovers that Teena has gone to a church, where Rome meets her. Teena, however, refuses to go away with Rome, and Candella arrives, persuading her to leave the church. As Candella arrests Rome and leads him out of the church, Rome, seeing that Candella is wounded and bleeding and would not be able to keep up to him in a chase, breaks away and runs down the street. Candella fires at the escaping criminal, killing him. Just arriving on the scene, Rome's brother Tony, who could not bring himself to steal money from their mother as Rome had asked, breaks down in tears.



Director Robert Siodmak was loaned from Universal for this motion picture.[3] Filming took place on location in New York originally under the title Law and Martin Rome.[4]


At the time the film was released, The New York Times praised Cry of the City as "taut and grimly realistic". The review praised the performances as "thoroughly effective", and said that "Victor Mature, an actor once suspected of limited talents, turns in a thoroughly satisfying job as the sincere and kindly cop, who not only knows his business but the kind of people he is tracking down".[5]

The staff at Variety magazine liked the film and wrote, "The hard-hitting suspense of the chase formula is given topnotch presentation in Cry of the City. It's an exciting motion picture, credibly put together to wring out every bit of strong action and tension inherent in such a plot. Robert Siodmak's penchant for shaping melodramatic excitement that gets through to an audience is realistically carried out in this one".[6]

The film has been highly praised by modern critics, and is viewed as an important example of the film noir genre. The Time Out Film Guide praises the realistic look and feel of the city: "Rarely has the cruel, lived-in squalor of the city been presented in such telling detail, both in the vivid portrayal of ghetto life and in the astonishing parade of corruption uncovered in the night (a slug-like shyster; a monstrous, sadistic masseuse; a sleazy refugee abortionist, etc.)".[7]

Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton writing in A Panorama of American Film Noir 1941–1953 comments that director Siodmak had better noir efforts but the film does have one lasting image, "Siodmak will rediscover neither the brilliance of The Killers nor the 'finish' of Criss Cross in the over-rushed, too uneven, Cry of the City: for all that, one will remember the figure of a forever famished masseuse, a real 'phallic woman' who, with a flick of the wrists, has a 'tough guy' at her mercy".

In Film Noir: The Dark Side of the Screen, Foster Hirsch said that Siodmak's characters "are nurtured by their obsessions". The Candella character, "as Colin McArthur notes in Underworld USA, 'hunts his quarry with an almost metaphysical hatred'".

Hirsch describes Rome's innocence in the jewel robbery, despite his criminal background, as an "ironic variation on the wrong man theme" of some film noir movies. "Branded for a crime he did not commit, the Conte character becomes a true criminal, enmeshed in a web from which there is no escape".


The musical score of the film is Alfred Newman's Street Scene, which had debuted in a 1931 movie of the same name and was heard in other big-city gangster pictures produced during that era.



  • A Panorama of American Film Noir 1941–1953 by Raymond Borde and Etienne Chaumeton
  • Film Noir: The Dark Side of the Screen by Foster Hirsch (Da Capo Press, 1983)


  1. ^ Cry of the City at IMDb
  2. ^ Taylor, Russell. "Encounter with Siodmak". Sight and Sound. Vol. 28, no. 3 (Summer 1959). London. p. 180.
  3. ^ Schallert, Edwin (Nov 8, 1947). "DRAMA AND FILM: Italy Movie Mecca; Al Capone 'Lives' Anew". Los Angeles Times. p. A5.
  4. ^ A.H. WEILER (Mar 21, 1948). "BY WAY OF REPORT: The Homestretch – One Ten – Other Matters". New York Times. p. X5.
  5. ^ The New York Times. Film review, September 30, 1948.
  6. ^ Variety magazine, film review, September 29, 1948.
  7. ^ Time Out Film Guide film review, 2010.

External links

This page was last edited on 16 December 2023, at 22:11
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