"Cry of the City" begins with musical composer Alfred Newman's familiar main title theme from "Street Scene" (released in 1931). 20th Century Fox reused this music that mimics the street noises of the lower East Side of New York in more than a half dozen films. Director Robert Siodmak was loaned to Fox by Universal for this production. The entire cast is simply phenomenal and the second unit photography of New York City truly complements the scenes staged at the studio. A charming, charismatic, and womanizing career criminal turned cop killer, "Martin Rome" (born Martino Roma) escapes from a jail hospital and becomes enmeshed in the aftermath of another murder and jewel robbery. The studio originally intended to star Victor Mature as Martin Rome, but Darryl F. Zanuck wisely shuffled the cast and put Richard Conte in the role of Rome and used Mature as an Italian police lieutenant, Vittorio Candella. The supporting cast included Shelly Winters, Fred Clark, Tito Vuolo, Betty Garde, plus Hope Emerson and fifteen year old Debra Paget. Emerson and Paget made their movie debuts in "Cry of the City."
Throughout the festival, intentionally or not, many of the films have focused upon traveling upon the high seas. "Key Largo" and "The Lady from Shanghai" are obvious examples, but during the closing night the fugitive criminals all mean to escape by boarding vessels bound for Latin America. Martin Rome quips that he is willing to enter any port of call except for "the Canal Zone" which was under the jurisdiction of the United States government. In "Raw Deal" Joe Sullivan and his moll, Pat Regan, want to start a new decent life in South America and actually board a ship together before their plans unravel during the hour before the voyage was scheduled to begin.
During pre-production after Eagle-Lion Studios secured the literary rights for the story that became "Raw Deal," it was announced to the press that Richard Basehart would be the star. Undoubtedly, this was due to Basehart's recent success in "He Walked by Night." Fortunately, the role was given to Dennis O'Keefe instead. The versatile Claire Trevor and Marsha Hunt were the two women competing for his affections while Raymond Burr and John Ireland are the two heavies. Anthony Mann directed while John Alton photographed the action.
All in all, it was a most impressive festival. The cinematography in the selected films was exceptional with names such as John Alton, Nicholas Mursuraca, John Seitz, and Joseph McDonald, among others, figuring prominently. The supporting characters in the films, many of whom were not credited, included reliable players such as Regis Toomey, Konstantin Shayne, Howard Freeman, Charles Wagenheim, Ray Teal, and so many more.
As for the renewed interest in these timeless films, all I can add is to repeat the axiom "desperate times call for desperate measures." Perhaps we are all living in noirish times.