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REST IN PEACE TO RHONDA FLEMING FROM THE NOIR 'CRY DANGER'

William Powell & Rhonda Fleming 1951 Rates: ***1/2

The recently-departed Queen of Technicolor Rhonda Fleming also reigned in a few B&W Film Noirs, like the famous OUT OF THE PAST... and the obscure CRY DANGER starring Dick Powell as a pardoned convict who, five years earlier, was falsely accused of stealing a load of still-missing cash...

And the first twist involves Richard Erdman as a limping war hero, providing Powell's Rocky a false alibi, with a motive — making him an endearing sidekick but one that spouts too much exposition, filling Powell and the audience in on what could've panned-out more creatively otherwise...

Like the fact Rocky's still-incarcerated partner's pretty/perfect wife is even crazier about Rocky, and here's where an intensely dedicated, immensely worried (if somewhat underused) Rhonda Fleming enters, living in a trailer park where the boys — having hatched a comeback plan — temporarily reside. Meanwhile chief villain William Conrad scowls behind his big bookie desk, and Rocky threatens him endlessly while being endlessly dogged by a determined cop: Which all sounds pretty complicated, as Noirs usually involve a mazy plotline, or two. But what works here are the simplistic and (even back then) nostalgic 1930's Gangster-era shoot-outs within a sparse aesthetic — and yet, peppered with so many nifty, convenient one-liners, CRY DANGER is often too clever and self-aware for its own good.

William Powell and Rhonda Fleming in CRY DANGER
William Powell, Rhonda Fleming, William Conrad, Regis Toomey in CRY DANGER
William Powell and Richard Erdman in CRY DANGER
William Powell and Rhonda Fleming in CRY DANGER
William Powell and Rhonda Fleming in CRY DANGER
Rhonda Fleming in CRY DANGER
William Powell and Rhonda Fleming in CRY DANGER
Rhonda Fleming in CRY DANGER

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