CRY TERROR! (director/writer: Andrew L. Stone; cinematographer: Walter Strenge; editor: Virginia L. Stone; music: Howard Jackson; cast: James Mason (Jim Molner), Inger Stevens (Mrs. Joan Molner), Terry Ann Ross (Patty Molner), Rod Steiger (Paul Hoplin), Neville Brand (Steve, thug), Angie Dickinson (Eileen Kelly), Kenneth Tobey (Agent Frank Cole), Jack Klugman (Vince, thug), Carleton Young (Roger Adams, Airline CEO); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Andrew L. Stone/Virginia L. Stone; MGM; 1958)
“An ill-conceived attempt at making a realistic thriller about a mad bomber extorting money in a terrorist plot.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Director-writer Andrew L. Stone’ (“Julie”/”The Steel Trap”/”Confidence Girl”) film noir is an ill-conceived attempt at making a realistic thriller about a mad bomber extorting money in a terrorist plot. There are too many implausible occurrences for the narrative to handle and it all falls apart in the climactic hysterical underground subway chase scene, which yields to Hollywood melodrama. It was filmed in b/w on location in NYC.
James Mason plays Jim Molner, a meek family man who works as a television repairman in an electronics shop. He’s duped into building a small bomb filled with RDX by the diabolical bespectacled Paul Hoplin (Rod Steiger), a former Army demolition man, who says it’s for a lucrative Army contract (hard to believe any rational person being fooled by that come-on). Jim’s family, his nervous wife Joan (Inger Stevens) and precious preschool daughter Patty (Terry Ann Ross), are held hostage as they are coerced to participate in an extortion plot to get half a million dollars from the 20th Century Airlines. Gang leader Paul is the mastermind behind the scheme, whose other gang members are career criminal Vince (Jack Klugman), convicted rapist Steve (Neville Brand) and the bomb planter Eileen Kelly (Angie Dickinson).
The bulk of the film has the family go from shock to fighting back against their captors, while the FBI team led by the no-nonsense Agent Frank Cole (Kenneth Tobey) keep closing in on the gang with amazing efficiency. The wife is coerced into being the bag lady and is held by Steve and Paul in a secluded house, even after she gets the money, while hubby and daughter are held in Eileen’s East Side penthouse by the remaining gang. It concludes with hubby getting free to contact the police and wifey escaping from Paul’s clutches and collapsing on the subway tracks just as the AA local is coming and hubby and the FBI agents are arriving on the scene.
Unfortunately the story lacked the kind of tension it needed throughout, and there were too many coincidences and contrived plot points.
REVIEWED ON 9/9/2005 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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