review for Cry Havoc on AllMovie

Cry Havoc (1943)
by Craig Butler review

One of the few films to look at the women who served in World War II, Cry Havoc is a moving little drama that, while far from a great film, has its fair share of rewards. Chief among these, in addition to its subject matter, is its sterling cast. The uniquely talented Margaret Sullavan leads the ladies, bringing her special brand of steeliness and vulnerability to a role that requires both. Few actresses did "nobility" and "resolve" in quite the same way as Sullavan, and she's aces throughout. Matching her point for point is Ann Sothern, who managed to be both refined and brassy, delivering sharp quips in the most ladylike way possible. The relationship between these two ladies is crucial, and the actresses play it for all its worth. Joan Blondell, whose brassiness is unrestrained by Sothern's refinement, is also in top form, and there's fine work as well from Marsha Hunt, Connie Gilchrist, Ella Raines and the rest of the cast. Rcihard Thorpe's direction is solid, if unimaginative. Where Havoc stumbles slightly is in its script. The film's stage origins are all too apparent, despite attempts to open it up. There's also a slightly mechanical feel to the plot, and too often the speeches become "speechifying." Finally, the love triangle that is set up feels forced, despite the efforts of Sullavan and Sothern. Still, even with its shortcomings, Havoc is well worth viewing.