Movie Diary 2/17/2020

Cry Terror! (Andrew L. Stone, 1958). Weird one, with a series of suspense set-pieces, mostly rendered in real locations, per the M.O. of Stone and wife Virginia. A madman (Rod Steiger) blackmails an inventor (James Mason) into helping him execute a ransom involving a bomb and an airline. The always vaguely tragic Inger Stevens is responsible for most of the interest here, running around trying to save the day and being creepily menaced by henchman Neville Brand. We’ve also got Angie Dickinson and Jack Klugman, both devoted to Steiger’s wickedness. The movie is plenty deranged, and it looks wrong, too; Stone’s compositional eye always seems to have the players too close or too far away from the camera. Stevens has a long voiceover section that predicts her performance in the Twilight Zone episode The Hitchhiker. Mason has a random v.o. sequence too. A clumsy movie.

A Cry in the Night (Frank Tuttle, 1956). Freak-boy Raymond Burr kidnaps Natalie Wood from Lover’s Lane, while her cop father (Edmond O’Brien) and pal (Brian Donlevy) search the city. Burr goes full Lenny-in-Of-Mice-and-Men, a real 50s psychological workout. Not exactly good, but with enough quirk to sustain its 75 minutes.