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A Cry in the Night (1956)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 17 August 1956 (USA)
A deranged man kidnaps the nubile daughter of a police captain.

Director:

Frank Tuttle

Writers:

David Dortort (screenplay), Whit Masterson (novel)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Edmond O'Brien ... Capt. Dan Taggart
Brian Donlevy ... Capt. Ed Bates
Natalie Wood ... Elizabeth
Raymond Burr ... Harold Loftus
Richard Anderson ... Owen Clark
Irene Hervey ... Helen Taggart
Carol Veazie Carol Veazie ... Mrs. Mabel Loftus
Mary Lawrence Mary Lawrence ... Madge Taggart
Anthony Caruso ... Tony Chavez
George J. Lewis ... George Gerrity
Peter Hansen ... Dr. Frazee
Tina Carver ... Mrs. Marie Holzapple
Herb Vigran ... Jensen - Sergeant at Police Desk
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Storyline

Owen Marks, parked at Lovers' Loop with girlfriend Liz Taggart, surprises a peeping Tom, who knocks him out and kidnaps Liz. The police leap into action when they learn the victim is a cop's daughter. Kidnapper Harold Loftus, the unhinged product of a smothering mother, makes ineffectual advances toward Liz, who staves him off as the police close in, hindered as much as helped by her overprotective father Capt. Dan Taggart. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Eighteen, nice girl, nice home - How did she fall this far?... See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Film-Noir

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 August 1956 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Cry in the Night See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to a 2016 biography of Natalie Wood, she began dating Raymond Burr during this production. See more »

Goofs

When Edmond O'Brien is getting ready to watch a movie on TV, he pours himself a glass of beer which is almost entirely foam. When he stands up to turn off the TV, the glass is suddenly full of beer. See more »

Quotes

Boy on Motorcycle: Sock her again! They love it!
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User Reviews

 
A Rare 'Family Noir'
12 November 2016 | by jdsuggsSee all my reviews

"A Cry in the Night" starts fast: an idealized fifties couple parked in a convertible at the local Inspiration Point, a conked boyfriend, a kidnapped teenage girl (inevitably, the police captain's daughter). From there it fans out into a number of ideas, most of which wander into the dark and disappear, none of which are delivered with any particular inspiration.

We get the question of personal responsibility and "getting involved" when no one else on the scene responds to Natalie Wood's cries for help- from which the title derives- with anything more than mockery. We get the question of how a monster is made when we meet Raymond Burr's horrific and self-absorbed mother. We get the idea of Natalie Wood, victim, fighting to survive by forging a personal connection with her captor. We get the idea that her home life was another form of captivity. Nonetheless, all we really get is a police chase, and it's a pretty mundane one.

From Raymond Burr, we get an interpretation of an unstable but very human mentally-challenged person that builds in places on Lon Chaney Jr.'s performance in "Of Mice and Men", but is still just an unconvincing sketch. From nearly every one else, we get a lot of scenery-nibbling where chewing is called for: Edmond O'Brien, as the missing girl's father, takes his anger level to about a seven and is always willing to stop and quibble about minor distractions. Natalie Wood does a fine job, but knowing what she had been through personally by this time in her young life makes her character's situation more than a bit painful.

Perhaps fortunately, sexual tension is greatly minimized by the era of the film: it's there, eventually, but a much more overt rape threat might truly have demonized Burr's character and thus done a disservice to people who were already marginalized in society.

Unsurprisingly, the subplot in which the Taggart family problems are brought to light by the ordeal at hand is absurdly simplistic and about as subtle and deft as a sledgehammer.

It all moves briskly enough, and Burr's creepy lair is a plus, along with the exciting situation, but there's a much better film in this material. To see a fairly similar story in far more skilled hands (only a year earlier), check out William Wyler's "The Desperate Hours".


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