Cry of the City

Cry of the City is a 1948 black-and-white film noir directed by Robert Siodmak 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]

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


Martin Rome (Richard Conte), a hardened criminal, is recuperating in a hospital from a shootout where he killed a police officer. At the hospital, he is secretly visited by his fiancée, Teena Ricante (Debra Paget). A shady lawyer arrives in Rome's room. Niles (Berry Kroeger), is representing another crook who is being held for a jewel robbery during which a woman was tortured and murdered. Niles attempts to coerce Rome into confessing to this robbery, supposedly in exchange for a deal which would see him escape the electric chair. Niles threatens to harm Teena, Rome reacts by trying to strangle the lawyer. Later, in order to protect Teena from both Niles and the police, who are searching for her in relation to the robbery, Rome charms his nurse, Miss Pruett (Betty Garde), into providing the girl a hiding place: Pruett's own apartment.

After being transferred to the prison's hospital ward, Rome secures the help of a trusty (Walter Baldwin), to help him escape. He goes to Niles' office and demands money to allow he and Teena to get away. When Rome forces the lawyer to open the safe, he 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 and takes the jewels, concealing them in a locker in a subway station.

Rome is being pursued by police lieutenant Candella (Victor Mature), and his partner, Lieutenant Collins (Fred Clark). Candella knows Rome's family well, having grown up in the neighborhood. Rome, feverish from his bullet wounds and exceedingly tired, goes to his parents' apartment seeking his mother's help. His teenage brother, Tony, himself skirts the law assisting the brother he worships. Their mother tells Rome he must leave; while she is preparing him some food, Candella shows up. He suspects Rome is hiding in the apartment and tells the woman, whom he calls 'Mama', he must search. Rome and Tony appear; Rome holds a gun on Candella, Tony makes sure the coast is clear and Rome escapes. Afterwards, Candella tells Tony to sit down for a talk.

Rome uses an old girlfriend, Brenda (Shelley Winters), to track down Rose Givens' address. His injuries are causing him to weaken so badly that she enlists an unlicensed foreign doctor to attend to him in her car. The doctor administers enough care, for $200, to temporarily revive Rome. Brenda finally drops him off at Rose Givens' address. There, Rome makes a deal with Rose to give her the jewels for "five-thousand dollars, a car, a way out of the country and a good night's sleep".

Candella becomes more obsessive about his pursuit of Rome. He and his partner stay up all night considering the case. The next morning at the station, the two talk to the trusty from the prison, the man who was in charge of the hospital ward when Rome escaped, and a group of foreign doctors. The doctor who treated Rome is among them and, when Candella discovers the $200 in the man's wallet, he confesses.

Meanwhile, Rose has set out to secure the funds and to make the travel arrangements for Rome. He telephones Candella at the police station to inform them that Rose will be on the subway platform retrieving the jewels from the locker. He makes the mistake of assuming he would be in possession of the money and the tickets before she opens the locker, but Rose makes it clear she will not hand those over until she has the jewels. As she takes them from the locker, she is apprehended. She struggles and manages to fire her gun, aiming for Rome; instead she hits Candella in the shoulder.

Candella flees the hospital and goes to Miss Pruett's apartment, knowing that she is the only one who could know where Teena is. Pruett tells him that Rome summoned Teena to meet him at a church. Outside the church, Rome meets Tony and, because he did not receive the money from Rose, orders the boy to go home, steal their parents' savings and return with it as fast as possible. Tony cannot bring himself to do this and seems to have decided to break with his brother's criminality.

Inside the church, Teena informs Rome she will not go away with him. As he tries to smooth-talk Teena into changing her mind, Candella arrives and fills the girl in on all the human wreckage Rome has left behind him. Teena leaves.

As the two men leave the church, Rome takes advantage of Candella's gunshot wound and makes to escape along the street. Candella shoots and kills him. In the aftermath, Tony breaks down and cries after helping Candella into a police car. The police lieutenant consoles the boy.



Director Robert Siodmak was loaned from Universal for this motion picture.[2] Filming took place on location in New York originally under the title Law and Martin Rome.[3]


Critical response

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."[4]

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."[5]

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)."[6]

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 Candela 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 became iconic in 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 on IMDb
  2. ^ DRAMA AND FILM: Italy Movie Mecca; Al Capone 'Lives' Anew Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 08 Nov 1947: A5.
  3. ^ BY WAY OF REPORT: The Homestretch -- One Ten -- Other Matters By A.H. WEILER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 21 Mar 1948: X5.
  4. ^ The New York Times. Film review, September 30, 1948.
  5. ^ Variety magazine, film review, September 29, 1948.
  6. ^ Time Out Film Guide film review, 2010.

External links

1948 in film

The year 1948 in film involved some significant events.

Berry Kroeger

Berry Kroeger (October 16, 1912 – January 4, 1991) was an American film, television and stage actor.

Betty Garde

Katharine Elizabeth Garde (September 19, 1905 – December 25, 1989) was an American stage, radio, film and television actress.

Dan Sheridan

Dan Sheridan (born Daniel Marvin Sheridan on September 3, 1916 in Athlone, Ireland - died June 29, 1963 in Encino, Los Angeles, California) was an Irish-American actor who appeared in more than thirty-five television series between 1957 and his death at the age of forty-six in 1963. He was cast in forty-one episodes of the ABC/Warner Brothers western series, Lawman, starring John Russell and Peter Brown. In most of his Lawman appearances, Sheridan played the bartender, Jake Summers.

A supporting player with a cultured voice, he also appeared in several films, including Cry of the City, Bullwhip, and Cole Younger, Gunfighter. He played "Doc Baxter" in the "Duel at Sundown" episode of Maverick, an ABC/WB western with James Garner and guest star Clint Eastwood, and a derby-topped yahoo in the series' episode "Ghost Rider" with Garner.

Other television series in which Sheridan appeared, often several times in various roles, include Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Untouchables with Robert Stack, The Rough Riders with Kent Taylor, Bat Masterson with Gene Barry, Yancy Derringer with Jock Mahoney, Jefferson Drum with Jeff Richards, Have Gun - Will Travel with Richard Boone, The Rifleman with Chuck Connors, Colt .45 with Wayde Preston, The Rebel with Nick Adams, Gunsmoke with James Arness, Bronco with Ty Hardin, Cheyenne with Clint Walker, Tales of Wells Fargo with Dale Robertson, Bonanza with Lorne Greene, The Virginian with James Drury and Doug McClure, Rawhide with Eric Fleming and Clint Eastwood, Checkmate with Sebastian Cabot and Doug McClure, and Route 66 with Martin Milner and George Maharis.

Sheridan was honored for his service during World War II with the Australian Military Cross, the Anzac Military Medal, the United States Silver Star, and the French Croix de Guerre.

Debra Paget

Debra Paget (born Debralee Griffin; August 19, 1933) is an American actress and entertainer. She is perhaps best known for her performances in Cecil B. DeMille's epic The Ten Commandments (1956) and in Love Me Tender (1956) (the film debut of Elvis Presley), and for the risque (for the time) snake dance scene in The Indian Tomb (1959).

Edward Woodward

Edward Albert Arthur Woodward, OBE (1 June 1930 – 16 November 2009) was an English actor and singer.

After graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Woodward began his career on stage. Throughout his career, he appeared in productions in both the West End of London and on Broadway in New York City. He came to wider attention from 1967 in the title role of the British television spy drama Callan, earning him the 1970 British Academy Television Award for Best Actor.

Woodward starred as Police Sergeant Neil Howie in the 1973 cult British horror film The Wicker Man, and in the title role of the 1980 Australian biopic Breaker Morant. From 1985 to 1989, Woodward starred as British ex-secret agent and vigilante Robert McCall in the American television series The Equalizer, earning him the 1986 Golden Globe Award for Best Television Drama Actor.

Elizabeth Hurley

Elizabeth Jane Hurley (born 10 June 1965), more generally known as Liz Hurley, is an English actress and model. She has been associated with the cosmetics company Estée Lauder since the company gave Hurley her first modelling job at the age of 29. They have featured her as a representative and model for their products, especially perfumes such as Sensuous, Intuition, and Pleasures, since 1995. Hurley owns an eponymous beachwear line.As an actress, her best-known film roles to date have been as Vanessa Kensington in Mike Myers' hit spy comedy, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and as the Devil in Bedazzled (2000). In 2015, Hurley began starring in the E! original series The Royals.

In the 1990s, Hurley became known as the girlfriend of Hugh Grant. In 1994, as Grant became the focus of international media attention due to the success of his film Four Weddings and a Funeral, Hurley accompanied him to the film's Los Angeles premiere in a plunging black Versace dress held together with gold safety pins, which gained her instant media attention.

Felicity Huffman

Felicity Kendall Huffman (born December 9, 1962) is an American film, stage, and television actress. She is best known for her role as Lynette Scavo on the ABC TV series Desperate Housewives.

Huffman began her acting career in theatre and in the 1990s also had many supporting roles in film and television. She starred as Dana Whitaker in the ABC comedy-drama Sports Night from 1998 to 2000, which earned her a Golden Globe Award nomination. She is best known for her role as Lynette Scavo in the ABC comedy-drama Desperate Housewives (2004–2012), for which she earned the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for the debut season of the series, and three Screen Actors Guild Awards and three consecutive Golden Globe nominations.

Huffman drew critical praise for her performance as a transgender woman in the independent film Transamerica (2005). The role earned her a Golden Globe Award, Independent Spirit Award, National Board of Review, and an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Huffman has also starred in such films as Reversal of Fortune (1990), The Spanish Prisoner (1997), Magnolia (1999), Path to War (2002), Georgia Rule (2007), Phoebe in Wonderland (2008), Rudderless (2014), and Cake (2014). From 2015 to 2017, she starred in a third ABC series, the anthology crime drama American Crime, for which she received critical acclaim including three Primetime Emmy Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations and a Screen Actors Guild nomination.

Knights of the City

Knights of the City (originally Cry of the City) is a 1986 action adventure film starring Leon Isaac Kennedy, Nicholas Campbell, John Mengatti and Janine Turner. It was directed by Dominic Orlando and written by Leon Isaac Kennedy and filmed in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood, Florida.

List of television films produced for UPN

During the late 1990s, United Paramount Network produced a number of television films branded "Blockbuster Shockwave Cinema," in conjunction with sponsor (and sister company) Blockbuster Video. Almost all were science fiction films, and likewise, their after-airing availability on home video was exclusive to Blockbuster stores. From UPN's inception until 2000, the network also offered a hosted movie series called the UPN Movie Trailer to their stations. The show featured mostly older Hollywood action and comedy films, often those made by Paramount Pictures. Movie Trailer was discontinued in 2000 to give stations that opted for them room for a second weekend run of Star Trek: Enterprise and America's Next Top Model (and later, Veronica Mars). There were also three Paramount-branded blocks on the company's owned-and-operated stations ("O&Os") only: Paramount Teleplex as the main brand for movies at any given timeslot, Paramount Prime Movie for primetime features, and the Paramount Late Movie on late nights.

This is a brief list of television films produced for UPN, an American broadcast television network:

30 Years to Life (1998)

Abazi Avni: The Life of a Land (2001)

Airtight (1999)

Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County (1998)

Alien Fury: Countdown to Invasion (2000)

Avalon: Beyond the Abyss (1999)

Code Name Phoenix (2000)

Chameleon (1998)

Chameleon II: Death Match (1999)

Chameleon 3: Dark Angel (2000)

Curse of the Talisman (2001)

Code Red: The Rubicon Conspiracy (2000)

The Cyber-stalking a.k.a. The Cyberstalking (1999)

The Darwin Conspiracy (1999)

Dying to Live (1999)

Escape from Mars (1999)

Harrison: Cry of the City (1996)

I Married a Monster (1998)

Inferno (1998)

Killer Deal (1999)

The Last Man on Planet Earth (1999)

Lost In the Bermuda Triangle (1998)

Lost Souls (1998)

The Mania of WrestleMania (2003, filmed and 2004, aired)

Max Knight: Ultra Spy (2000)

Monster! (1999)

Riddler's Moon (1998)

Roswell: The Aliens Attack (1999)

Star Command a.k.a. In the Fold (1996)

Survivor (1999)

The Shamrock Conspiracy (1995)

Virtual Nightmare (2000)

The Warlord: Battle for the Galaxy (1998)

What About Your Friends: Weekend Getaway (2002)

Past Three O'Clock

"Past Three O'Clock" (or "Past Three A Clock") is a Christmas carol, loosely based on the traditional cry of the city night watchman.

The words were written by George Ratcliffe Woodward (1848–1934) to the traditional tune "London Waits". Woodward added lines to the traditional refrain in a style characteristic of his delight in archaic poetry. It was published in A Cambridge Carol Book: Being Fifty-two Songs for Christmas, Easter and Other Seasons in 1924.Numerous variations of the carol include an arrangement by William Llewellyn as a "quodlibet" for choir: London Waits (Past Three O'clock).Recordings of the carol include those by the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, the Choir of King's College, Cambridge, the Monteverdi Choir., the Renaissance Singers, James Galway and the National Philharmonic Orchestra and The Chieftains on the album The Bells of Dublin, (1991).

Popular music artists who have recorded the carol include Linda Ronstadt on the album A Merry Little Christmas (2000) and Chris Squire on the album Chris Squire's Swiss Choir (2007).

Richard Conte

Richard Conte (born Nicholas Peter Conte; March 24, 1910 – April 15, 1975) was an American actor. He appeared in more than 100 films from the 1940s through 1970s, including I'll Cry Tomorrow, Ocean's 11, and The Godfather.

Richard Murphy (screenwriter)

Richard Murphy (May 8, 1912 – May 19, 1993) was an American screenwriter, film director and producer. His screenplays for Boomerang (1947) and The Desert Rats (1953) were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Original Screenplay, respectively.

Robert Montano

Robert Montano is an American film and television actor.

Robert Siodmak

Robert Siodmak (; 8 August 1900 – 10 March 1973) was a German film director who also worked in the United States. He is best remembered as a thriller specialist and for a series of stylish, unpretentious Hollywood films noirs he made in the 1940s, such as The Killers (1946).

Shelley Winters

Shelley Winters (born Shirley Schrift; August 18, 1920 – January 14, 2006) was an American actress whose career spanned almost six decades.

She appeared in numerous films, and won Academy Awards for The Diary of Anne Frank (1959) and A Patch of Blue (1965), and received nominations for A Place in the Sun (1951) and The Poseidon Adventure (1972). Other roles Winters appeared in include A Double Life (1947), The Night of the Hunter (1955), Lolita (1962), Alfie (1966), and Pete's Dragon (1977).

In addition to film, Winters also appeared in television, including a years-long tenure on the sitcom Roseanne, and also authored three autobiographical books.

Street Scene (film)

Street Scene is a 1931 American pre-Code drama film produced by Samuel Goldwyn and directed by King Vidor. With a screenplay by Elmer Rice adapted from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Street Scene takes place on a New York City street from one evening until the following afternoon. Except for one scene which takes place inside a taxi, Vidor shot the entire film on a single set depicting half a city block of house fronts.

The film stars Estelle Taylor, David Landau, Sylvia Sidney, William Collier, Jr., and Beulah Bondi (her screen debut). The music score is by Alfred Newman, his first complete film score. Newman composed the eponymous title theme, in the style of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. The theme has been used in other movies, including Cry of the City, Kiss of Death, I Wake Up Screaming, Where the Sidewalk Ends, The Dark Corner, Gentleman's Agreement and as the overture to How to Marry a Millionaire.

Tommy Cook (actor)

Tommy Cook (born July 5, 1930) is an American producer, screenwriter and actor. He came up with the story for the 1977 disaster film Rollercoaster, starring George Segal. Cook also voiced Augie Anderson and Biff on Hanna-Barbera's animated series The Funky Phantom and Jabberjaw.

Walter Baldwin

Walter S. Baldwin Jr. (January 2, 1889 − January 27, 1977) was a prolific character actor whose career spanned five decades and 150 film and television roles, and numerous stage performances.

Baldwin was born in Lima, Ohio from a theatrical family and served in the First World War.

He was probably best known for playing the father of the handicapped sailor in The Best Years of Our Lives. He was the first actor to portray "Floyd the Barber" on The Andy Griffith Show.

Prior to his first film roles in 1939, Baldwin had appeared in more than a dozen Broadway plays. He played Whit in the first Broadway production of Of Mice and Men, and also appeared in the original Grand Hotel in a small role, as well as serving as the production's stage manager. He originated the role of Bensinger, the prissy Chicago Tribune reporter, in the 1928 Broadway production of The Front Page.

In the 1960s he had small acting roles in television shows such as Petticoat Junction and Green Acres. He continued to act in motion pictures, and one of his last roles was in Rosemary's Baby.

Baldwin was known for playing solid middle class burghers, although sometimes he gave portrayals of eccentric characters. He played a customer seeking a prostitute in The Lost Weekend and the rebellious prison trusty Orvy in Cry of the City. Walter Baldwin was featured in a lot of John Deere Day Movies from 1949-59 where he played the farmer Tom Gordon. In this series of Deere Day movies over a decade he helped to introduce many new pieces of John Deere farm equipment year-by-year. In each yearly movie he would be shown in a Tom Gordon Family Film where he would be buying new John Deere farm equipment or a new green and yellow tractor. A picture of Walter Baldwin playing Tom Gordon can be found on page 108 of Bob Pripp's book John Deere Yesterday & Today

Hal Erickson writes in Allmovie: "With a pinched Midwestern countenance that enabled him to portray taciturn farmers, obsequious grocery store clerks and the occasional sniveling coward, Baldwin was a familiar (if often unbilled) presence in Hollywood films for three decades."

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