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RKO wasn’t driven to get On Dangerous Ground off the ground. But director Nicholas Ray saw the potential of its source material, Mad with Much Heart, and convinced John Houseman, later known for The Paper Chase, (read about that here) to produce.
In developing the story, Ray went on ride-alongs with actual police officers in order to better understand their work, seeing the toughest neighborhoods in Boston through their eyes.
Go further behind the film noir below.
1. The cast enjoyed location shooting.
While the original novel was set in England, the film relocated the action to the United States and shot the film in Granby, Colorado. The townspeople were warm, and Robert Ryan even stopped by the high school to sign autographs and speak with the boxing club. It also snowed during filming, which caused delays but was perfect for the backdrop.
2. Many actresses were considered.
For Ida Lupino’s part, Laurel Bacall, Olivia de Havilland, Janet Leigh, and Deborah Kerr were also considered. Lupino enjoyed working with Nicholas Ray and even directed a scene when the director was sick.
3. The ending changed.
Originally, Robert Ryan and Ida Lupino did not reunite at the end. Rather, her character was left crying while he went back to the city. However, Lupino felt that the ending was too downbeat, and director Nicholas Ray allowed his leads to improvise a new ending, which made the final cut of the film.