A Cry in the Night (film)

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A Cry in the night
Cry in the night 1956 poster small.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Frank Tuttle
Produced by George C. Bertholon
Alan Ladd
Screenplay by David Dortort
Based on the novel All Through the Night
by Whit Masterson
Starring Edmond O'Brien
Brian Donlevy
Natalie Wood
Raymond Burr
Narrated by Alan Ladd
Music by David Buttolph
Cinematography John F. Seitz
Edited by Folmar Blangsted
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • August 17, 1956 (1956-08-17) (United States)
Running time
75 minutes
Country United States
Language English

A Cry in the Night is a 1956 dramatic thriller film starring Edmond O'Brien, Natalie Wood and Raymond Burr. It was produced by Alan Ladd but does not feature him in the cast.[1]


Eighteen-year-old Liz Taggart has gone to a lovers' lane with her boyfriend, Owen Clark, who has not yet been introduced to her parents. Unbeknownst to them, a psychopath named Harold Loftus has been watching them. Loftus knocks Owen unconscious and overpowers Liz, taking her to a shack.

A couple on a motorcycle try to revive Owen with liquor, but they leave when he doesn't wake up. Police arrive and mistakenly conclude that Owen is drunk. At the station, night-shift captain Ed Bates hears the story and realizes that Liz is the daughter of the day-shift captain, Dan Taggart.

While holding Liz prisoner, Loftus tries to force himself on her. Loftus' mother, Mabel, phones police when her son does not return home. Liz manages to get hold of Loftus' gun, but she finds it's not loaded.

Taggart is furious with Owen, blaming him for what has happened; but his wife scolds Taggart for intimidating their daughter to the point that she kept her relationship secret. When the police officers find the shack, Owen saves Taggart's life by leaping on Loftus at the last second. Taggart begins beating Loftus, who cries out for his mother.

After Loftus is taken into custody, Taggart invites Owen to accompany Liz back home.



The film was made for Alan Ladd's production company, Jaguar, despite Ladd not appearing in the cast.[2] It was based on the novel "All Through the Night" by "Whit Masterson" (Robert Wade and Bill Miller) which had appeared in Cosmopolitan magazine. The New York Times described it as "an intensely compact book... and an unusually rich one"[3] later saying it was one of the best films of the year.[4]

According to Turner Classic Movies, a number of changes were made from the novel:

The girl in the book was knocked out early on and treated like a piece of furniture from then on. Her boyfriend wanted to help rescue her, but was sidelined by her bullying father, an unsympathetic brute in pursuit of an equally monstrous villain. There just wasn't much there for any actor to grab a hold of. David Dortort took the book's outline and reconfigured its details to make the characters more compelling: the sex fiend was now a repressed mamma's boy. This 32-year old virgin has no other way to spend time with a woman aside from abducting her to a secret lair. And the object of his rapacious attention would no longer be an unconscious object, but a girl equally frustrated by the smothering attention of an overprotective parent, and capable of recognizing some humanity in her attacker. The boyfriend would no longer be relegated to the margins of the story, but would join the father in the hunt, where the two would have plenty of dramatic tension and mutual disrespect crackling between them.[5]

The director, Frank Tuttle, had worked with Ladd on a number of occasions, most recently in Hell on Frisco Bay. That had starred Edward G. Robinson who was discussed initially for the lead.[6] The cast included Edmond O'Brien and Richard Anderson, who was Ladd's son in law and was borrowed from MGM.[7] Brian Donlevy left a play commitment to appear in the film.[8]

Natalie Wood was under contract to Warner Bros.[9] It has been claimed that Wood lobbied to play the role in part of exorcise demons from her own real life rape.[5]

During the making of the film, Natalie Wood had a relationship with Raymond Burr, despite Burr being gay.[5]


Audiences reportedly laughed at the premiere. However the movie was made for a low budget and managed to return a profit.<ref name="tcm"

See also[edit]


  1. ^ A Cry in the night at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ TV Story Bought For Metro Movie: Gelman Dramatization From Montgomery Show Is Titled 'Return of Johnny Burro' By Thomas M. Pryor Special to The New York Times. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 13 Oct 1955: 35.
  3. ^ Report on Criminals at Large By ANTHONY BOUCHER. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 Sep 1955: BR12
  4. ^ Boucher's Best for 1955 New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 04 Dec 1955: BR62.
  5. ^ a b c Kalat, David, A Cry in the Night, Turner Classic Movies: accessed July 14, 2012
  6. ^ MOVIELAND EVENTS: Ladd Film Slate Heavily Loaded Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 17 Sep 1955: a6.
  7. ^ Ladd Turns Producer for Change Parsons, Louella. The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959) [Washington, D.C] 14 Oct 1955: 32.
  8. ^ Drama: Gail Russell to Star as Pioneer Nurse; Brian Donlevy Shifts to Film Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 26 Oct 1955: B7.
  9. ^ Hollywood's "teeniest" star By LIZA WILSON HOLLYWOOD EDITOR. The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959) [Washington, D.C] 19 Aug 1956: AW20

External links[edit]