Cry of the City (1948)

95 mins | Film noir | October 1948

Director:

Robert Siodmak

Writer:

Richard Murphy

Producer:

Sol C. Siegel

Cinematographer:

Lloyd Ahern

Editor:

Harmon Jones

Production Designers:

Lyle Wheeler, Albert Hogsett

Production Company:

Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
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HISTORY

This film's working titles were The Chair for Martin Rome and The Law and Martin Rome . Although early Jan HR production charts list James B. Clark as film editor, the extent of his contribution to the released film has not been determined. According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio purchased rights to Henry Helseth's novel The Chair for Martin Rome in Mar 1947 for $22,500. A first draft screenplay by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer was ready by early Jun 1947. John Monks, Jr. contributed additional drafts, but the final draft was the same as that turned in by Richard Murphy in early Dec 1947. The extent of the contribution of the earlier writers to the released film has not been determined. In the novel, neither of the principal male characters was of Italian ancestry. The police lieutenant was named "Saul Mendel," while "Martin Rome's" ethnicity was unspecified although he was described as a tall, blonde guy with blue eyes.
       An undated studio press release in the AMPAS Library, probably from mid-1947, announced Lon McCallister in the role of the "baby-faced killer." At that time, the production was to be shot in San Francisco. According to another press release, Victor Mature and Richard Conte were originally cast in the other's role, but when it was deemed unwise for Mature to play another criminal, Conte, whose two previous roles had been highly sympathetic, assumed the hoodlum's role. Randy Stuart and Lisa Howard were originally cast as "Teena." Hope Emerson ... More Less

This film's working titles were The Chair for Martin Rome and The Law and Martin Rome . Although early Jan HR production charts list James B. Clark as film editor, the extent of his contribution to the released film has not been determined. According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department and the Twentieth Century-Fox Produced Scripts Collection at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio purchased rights to Henry Helseth's novel The Chair for Martin Rome in Mar 1947 for $22,500. A first draft screenplay by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer was ready by early Jun 1947. John Monks, Jr. contributed additional drafts, but the final draft was the same as that turned in by Richard Murphy in early Dec 1947. The extent of the contribution of the earlier writers to the released film has not been determined. In the novel, neither of the principal male characters was of Italian ancestry. The police lieutenant was named "Saul Mendel," while "Martin Rome's" ethnicity was unspecified although he was described as a tall, blonde guy with blue eyes.
       An undated studio press release in the AMPAS Library, probably from mid-1947, announced Lon McCallister in the role of the "baby-faced killer." At that time, the production was to be shot in San Francisco. According to another press release, Victor Mature and Richard Conte were originally cast in the other's role, but when it was deemed unwise for Mature to play another criminal, Conte, whose two previous roles had been highly sympathetic, assumed the hoodlum's role. Randy Stuart and Lisa Howard were originally cast as "Teena." Hope Emerson made her screen debut in the picture. Although set in New York, most of the film was shot in Los Angeles. The hospital scenes, for example, were shot at Los Angeles County Hospital. However, in mid-Mar 1948, the production moved to New York for a few days of shooting on Sixth Avenue, Hester, Mott and Grand Streets. Additional New York filming took place near King and Houston Streets and in a subway station at Fourth Avenue and Eighteenth Street
       The CBCS and the studio's cutting continuity list characters played by Eddie Parks, Martin Begley and George Melford but they were not seen in the viewed, incomplete print. Various reviews incorrectly list the character portrayed by Betty Garde as " Mrs. Pruett." Two sequences included in the film's cutting continuity, but missing from the print viewed, feature Shelley Winters: In her first appearance in the film, she visits a photographic studio in an attempt to locate Madam Rose, who had been in show business, for Rome. Later, when Dr. Veroff treats Rome, he asks "Brenda" to get him some alcohol and she goes into a bar where a salesman tries to pick her up.
       Early in Jun 1947, as the studio was about to release the film under the title The Law and Martin Rome , a Baltimore, Maryland attorney Morton E. Rome wrote to the studio, "It is my opinion that the showing of such a picture...would damage my own personal career and hold me up to ridicule....I have no desire to engage in litigation over this matter, unless I am forced to. If you are willing to change the name of the picture, I shall be happy to forget the whole affair." Studio inter-office correspondence reveals that, as exhibitors were reacting unfavorably to the current title, a decision was made to change the title to Cry of the City . Alfred Newman's score includes another re-use of his Street Scene theme. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
25 Sep 1948.
---
Daily Variety
10 Sep 48
p. 3.
Film Daily
10 Sep 48
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
2 Jan 48
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Feb 48
p. 22.
Hollywood Reporter
10 Sep 48
p. 3, 9
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 48
p. 5.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
4 Sep 48
p. 4303.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Sep 48
p. 4317.
New York Times
30 Sep 48
p. 32.
Variety
15 Sep 48
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Stills
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
Orch arr
Orch arr
Orch arr
Orch arr
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Unit mgr in New York
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Chair for Martin Rome by Henry Edward Helseth (New York, 1947).
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Law and Martin Rome
The Chair for Martin Rome
Release Date:
October 1948
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 29 September 1948
Production Date:
26 December 1947--24 February 1948
mid March 1948
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
29 September 1948
Copyright Number:
LP2075
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
95
Length(in feet):
8,554
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
12957
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Hoodlum Martin Rome, who has killed a policeman during a robbery, is in a hospital prison ward about to be operated on, and is being prayed over by his parents, brothers and sisters and a priest. New York City police lieutenants Vittorio Candella, who grew up in the same Italian neighborhood as Rome, and Jim Collins wait outside to question him. Niles, a lawyer, also wants to see Rome to ask him to confess to his involvement in the killing of a Mrs. de Grazia and thereby save an innocent man who has been arrested for the crime. Rome refuses to cooperate, but later, as he recovers from the surgery, Candella interrogates him about a ring found in his possession, a ring stolen from Mrs. de Grazia, who was tortured until she revealed the whereabouts of her jewels and was then strangled. Although Rome is headed for the electric chair for killing the police officer, he denies involvement in the de Grazia murder and says he won the ring in a crap game. After Candella leaves, Rome asks his middle-aged nurse, Miss Francis Pruett, to take a note to his girl friend, Teena Riconti, telling her to go into hiding as she may be arrested as an accomplice. When Niles offers to defend Rome in exchange for his confession to the de Grazia killing, Rome again refuses. Candella then visits Rome's parents, whom he knows, looking for information about Rome's girl friends. Meanwhile, Rome has been moved to a prison, where a trusty offers to help him escape. After Rome escapes from his cell by means of a duplicate key, Candella and Collins are tipped off that Rome is ... +


Hoodlum Martin Rome, who has killed a policeman during a robbery, is in a hospital prison ward about to be operated on, and is being prayed over by his parents, brothers and sisters and a priest. New York City police lieutenants Vittorio Candella, who grew up in the same Italian neighborhood as Rome, and Jim Collins wait outside to question him. Niles, a lawyer, also wants to see Rome to ask him to confess to his involvement in the killing of a Mrs. de Grazia and thereby save an innocent man who has been arrested for the crime. Rome refuses to cooperate, but later, as he recovers from the surgery, Candella interrogates him about a ring found in his possession, a ring stolen from Mrs. de Grazia, who was tortured until she revealed the whereabouts of her jewels and was then strangled. Although Rome is headed for the electric chair for killing the police officer, he denies involvement in the de Grazia murder and says he won the ring in a crap game. After Candella leaves, Rome asks his middle-aged nurse, Miss Francis Pruett, to take a note to his girl friend, Teena Riconti, telling her to go into hiding as she may be arrested as an accomplice. When Niles offers to defend Rome in exchange for his confession to the de Grazia killing, Rome again refuses. Candella then visits Rome's parents, whom he knows, looking for information about Rome's girl friends. Meanwhile, Rome has been moved to a prison, where a trusty offers to help him escape. After Rome escapes from his cell by means of a duplicate key, Candella and Collins are tipped off that Rome is at Teena's place, but find only his younger brother Tony there. Rome goes to Niles' office, threatens him with a knife and, while looking for cash in his safe, discovers the de Grazia jewels in a hidden compartment. Niles tries to shoot Rome but accidentally shoots his secretary and is stabbed to death by Rome, who takes the jewels and a gun and heads to his parents' place. Although his father disowns him, his mother tries to help but cannot understand why he kills. Another of Rome's girl friends, Brenda, drives Rome to meet a Madam Rose, but as he is still suffering from the after-effects of the surgery, he passes out en route. Brenda locates an unlicensed doctor, Dr. Veroff, who treats him as they drive around. Rome tells Rose he knows she was in on the de Grazia job and that Niles gave him the jewels, which he now wants to trade for a car, $5,000 and a way out of the country. Rose agrees to meet him the next day to make the exchange. Meanwhile, Candella questions several unlicensed doctors, including Veroff, who admits he treated Rome. Rome phones Candella at police headquarters in an attempt to double-cross Rose, but when Rose and Rome meet, she draws a gun on him and together they go to a locker in a subway station where Rose is arrested by two plainclothesmen. During the ensuing fracas, Rose accidentally shoots Candella and Rome escapes. Later, Lt. Collins discovers that Candella has walked out of the hospital where he was being treated and has gone to Miss Pruett's house, looking for Teena. She, however, has left to meet Rome at a church. Rome, meanwhile, asks Tony to take their mother's savings money and bring it to him. When Rome tells Teena that they are going to leave the country, she responds that she no longer loves him and will not go with him. Candella then finds them, and after telling Teena to go home, prepares to take Rome in. As they leave the church, Rome hands his gun to Candella but then slugs the ailing cop and limps away. Candella shoots him, and Tony returns to find his brother dead. As the police arrive, Tony confesses that he could not steal from his mother, and after he helps Candella into a police car, he cries. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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