An Italian, a cop, he gotta make a speech.
Cry of the City is directed by Robert Siodmak and adapted to screenplay by Richard Murphy and Ben Hecht from the novel The Chair for Martin Rome written by Henry Edward Helseth. It stars Victor Mature, Richard Conte, Fred Clark, Shelley Winters, Betty Garde, Hope Emerson and Debra Paget. Music is by Alfred Newman and cinematography by Lloyd Ahern.
They were once boyhood friends in New York's Little Italy, but now, on either side of the law, Lt. Candella (Mature) and cop killer Martin Rome (Conte), are on a collision course from which neither may survive?
Excellent and under seen film noir from 20th Century Fox who initially conceived it as a follow up to cash in on the success of Kiss of Death the previous year. Cry of the City may be simple in premise, that of a good versus evil chase like formula, with an extra edge added as Candella and Rome battle for the soul of Rome's younger brother, but what unfolds is a tough and uncompromising story painted vividly with style and atmospheric grace on a noir canvas by Siodmak.
Siodmak made no secret of the fact he was "uncomfortable" about coming out of the confines of studio noir productions into airy location filming, but the great man need not have worried, for here we get a perfect example of what he could achieve outdoors. New York thrums to the hustle and bustle of day time life, of transport duties and everyday mundane functions, only to then become at night a city crying to the tune of ghetto dislocation, where rain sodden streets, long shadows and emergency service sirens struggle to hide the corruptible and forlorn people shuffling about the place.
Packed with classic noir characters, such as a shyster lawyer, amoral doctor and a devilishly brutish masseuse with a kink (the latter played by Hope Emerson with a near film stealing performance), it's the doppleganger effect that most shines through in this part of noirville. Candella and Rome are consistently mirror images of each other, both in the futile lives they currently lead, or in how afflictions lead them to their night of reckoning. It's fascinating that Candella is still a firm favourite of the Rome family elders, like he is the good son that Martin never was, while the attire of hunter and prey is most interesting, why is it that our good cop Candella is in dark clobber and our cop killing criminal is in lighter garb?
The pretty girls Paget and Winters are just peripheral characters, so there's no femme fatale angle to speak of here. This is more a noir bromance gone wrong story, with shades of religious motifs and a toying of audience sympathies evident for a good portion of the picture. From a beginning that ironically begins with the last rites, to a finale that blends death with a dangled hope of surrogacy, Cry of the City earns the classic noir badge that it was not granted back in the 40s. 8.5/10