Expressive terseness is the foundation of Ida Lupino’s technique, all it takes is a comic close-up of a hand nervously picking at the stuffing inside a living room couch to hint at a myriad of concealed suburban anxieties. (A different hand figures more ominously in the next scene at the food stand outside the factory, idly invading the corner of the frame as the heroine discusses her recent engagement with a friend.) The opening credits play over high-angled views of the young bookkeeper (Mala Powers) running desperately across a deserted street corner, so that, when she’s later chased through a nocturnal industrial landscape, the cross-cutting has a nightmare's terrible sense of déjà vu. The terrain is a maze of rigid, baleful masculinity, row upon row of parked trucks and a diagonal iron bar obscuring the scarred attacker’s eyes; the ascending camera cranes away from prey and predator, the wider societal vantage has a window being literally slammed shut. The pain and bewilderment of rape, the need to give a voice to Johnny Belinda, "the staring and whispering" of a culture too afraid to even call its horrors by name. The severe noir elements adduced from Mann’s Desperate are carried over by Lupino to Ray’s On Dangerous Ground, the city/country contrast finds the traumatized girl taking refuge in an agrarian commune next to the tubercular Navy vet soothed by faith (Tod Andrews). "We all go through dark times..." An act that shifts a woman’s whole world, the threat inherent in a sexist society’s every interaction, all of it explored with Lupino’s tough-minded clarity and compassion. A flash of understanding in the midst of the various unresolved tensions is the clergyman’s miracle, the closing message is Rossellini’s the following year (Europa ‘51), "you are not alone." With Robert Clarke, Raymond Bond, Lillian Hamilton, Rita Lupino, and Hal March. In black and white.
--- Fernando F. Croce