Nicholas Ray's On Dangerous Ground is an excellent noir-melodrama, despite its highly improbable and, well, melodramatic plot. Noir regular Robert Ryan plays a hard-bitten cop whose experience with dealing with criminals and violence has filled him with self-disgust and bitterness. He occasionally goes hysterically violent and brutally roughs up the suspects. While at home he washes his hands as if he were washing off the slime of the real world. Because of his erratic behavior and violent temper he is transferred to an upstate mountainous village to investigate a murder. There he meets a blind girl, played by another noir regular Ida Lupino, who is trying to save her juvenile brother who is a suspect. It is quite over-wrought and schematic but both the actors are so good and Ray's handling of the scenes between them gives it such pathos and emotional urgency that you never feel manipulated into believing in such a wildly improbable scenario. Instead it comes off as very sincere and authentic, and hence powerful.
The film also boasts of a score by Bernhard Hermann which is typically heavy, ominous and full of dread. In fact once in a while, it even threatens to take over the proceedings. The snowy and frozen landscape is extremely well shot with a lot of depth of focus, in effect, making the background part of the character and the story itself.
An exchange between Ryan and his co-worker which sums up the basic theme of the film very well... You don't live with yourself, you live with other people. Indeed! (From IMDB)
Jim Wilson: [yelling] So I get thrown off the force! What kind of job is this, anyway? Garbage, that's all we handle: garbage!
Pop Daly: Don't you know? That's the kind of job it is.
Jim Wilson: You've been doing it for sixteen years; you ought to know. How do you do it? How do you live with yourself?
Pop Daly: I don't! I live with other people. When I go home I don't take this stuff with me, I leave it outside. But you! The way you carry it around with you, you must like it!
Wikipedia also links to a critical contemporary review of the film by Bosley Crowther in the new york times. It shows the same bias against melodrama that I had mentioned earlier. Only in this case it is a very masculine melodrama...