Cry Of The City
"When there’s nowhere else to go but the electric chair, what’s another murder if it keeps Marty Rome on the streets?"

A cop killer (Richard Conte) is dying of his wounds in hospital. The priest is there and members of his family and in the shadows his girl (Debra Padget). Even his childhood friend from the police department, Lt Candella (Victor Mature), drops by with his hard-bitten partner (Fred Clark). This is the scene that ends a picture, not opens it. What could possibly happen now?

Marty Rome is not a quitter. He may be shot to hell, hardly able to stand, blessed with the last rites and breathing like a punched blancmange, but taking a powder on life just when he has the stolen jewels stashed and a beautiful teenager in love with him is not his style. He’s hanging in there. Better still, he’s getting out.

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The premise is barely credible, but what the heck! Rome in his trench coat and fedora, with a debilitating limp, charms death, an old stoolie behind bars and all the ladies to give him a second chance. He takes it, and more. Having killed once, he’s not afraid to kill again. His dear old momma won’t hear a word against him and his kid brother idolizes him. He’s a bad guy with good friends. Once out of hospital, escaped from jail and on the run, he’ll take anyone down who stands in his way. When there’s nowhere else to go but the electric chair, what’s another murder if it keeps Marty Rome on the streets?

In the tradition of Forties film noir, Cry Of The City follows the box office success a year earlier of Kiss Of Death with a black-and-white thriller that oozes atmosphere. German director Robert Siodmak (The Killers) creates a New York that throbs with menace.

Mature was originally going to play Rome before the producers decided to give him the (smaller) good guy role. Conte, a lesser known contract player, was chosen instead. Although excellent as the strong, silent type, he is not as convincing in the charm stakes. That’s Mature’s territory and you feel he would have brought a degree of sympathy to Little Italy’s home grown killer. As it is, Candella appears to be playing catch up to Rome’s cunning plans. Mature is in his prime. He should have been allowed to stretch himself with Marty, rather than beef up his cakes and be courageous as the handsome cop who stays on the right side of the tracks.

In support, Shelley Winters is typically vivacious and convincing as a blonde floozie who helps Rome and the towering figure of Hope Emerson gives a chilling performance as a masseuse with more than knotted muscle on her mind.

Cry Of The City deserves the recognition it never received.

Reviewed on: 29 Oct 2007
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A wounded killer goes on the run in New York. Out on re-release in the UK.
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Director: Robert Siodmak

Writer: Richard Murphy, based on the novel by Henry Edward Helseth

Starring: Victor Mature, Richard Conte, Fred Clark, Shelley Winters, Betty Garde, Berry Kroeger, Tommy Cook, Debra Paget, Hope Emerson, Roland Winters, Walter Baldwin

Year: 1948

Runtime: 95 minutes

BBFC: 12A - Adult Supervision

Country: US

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