Cry of the City

  • Film
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Film noir doesn’t get much murkier than Robert Siodmak’s 1948 New York-set immigrant story, back in cinemas as part of a retrospective of his work at the BFI. And anti-heroes don’t come much more morally bankrupt than Marty Rome (Richard Conte), a cop-killer and petty thief riddled with bullets and recovering in a prison hospital. The only thing Marty cares about is his girl, Teena (Debra Paget), the kind of apple-cheeked innocent that crooks in classic crime movies always seem to go for. There’s a cop on his case, too: Candella (Victor Mature), who grew up in the same neighbourhood but managed to stay on the straight and narrow.

‘Cry of the City’ is hardly original, and the script has a tendency to wander off the point: a subplot involving a crooked lawyer and a safe-full of stolen diamonds never quite comes into focus. But the performances are strong – Conte captures his character’s moral balancing act perfectly, while Shelley Winters has a memorable cameo as a scatterbrained prostitute – and the details of place and period are squalidly convincing.

A German immigrant himself, it’s Siodmak’s sympathetic interest in day-to-day life in the Italian-American ghetto of Hell’s Kitchen that makes ‘Cry of the City’ feel so ahead of its time. Rome’s family – his protective, minestrone-serving Mama (Mimi Aguglia) and tearaway little brother Tony (Tommy Cook) – could have come straight from a Scorsese movie.

Release details

Release date: Friday April 17 2015
Duration: 96 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Robert Siodmak
Screenwriter: Richard Murphy
Cast: Victor Mature
Richard Conte
Shelley Winters
Fred Clark
Debra Paget
Hope Emerson
Betty Garde
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