A Cry in the Night (1956)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Melodrama  |   Release Date - Aug 17, 1956 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 75 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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An uneven and at times irritating crime thriller with noir overtones (but lacking the complex existentialism of real noirs), A Cry in the Night is worth seeing for fans of police procedurals, Natalie Wood and/or Raymond Burr. This is the Burr that audiences knew before Perry Mason -- a sinister, frightening figure, usually a loner and an outsider. He's all that here, although Burr also engenders a bit of unwilling sympathy from viewers. He may clearly be the despicable villain, but he's such damaged goods from his mother and, most likely, from mental impairment that you feel a little sorry for him. That's not to say you're not sorry that he gets what's coming to him; just that your feelings are a bit ambivalent. Wood does very well in one of her on-the-brink of adulthood roles, although all her good efforts can't overcome some of the more ridiculous moments in the script. As her father, Edmond O'Brien fares less well, seeming a walking tough guy puppet manipulated by the screenwriters rather than anything really human. Even his genuine and understandable concern for his daughter comes off as forced and at times a bit creepy. Despite the script problems, Cry keeps the viewer's attention, even as it goes over the top; there's something luridly involving about the whole affair.