Cry Wolf (1947)

Cry Wolf (1947), directed by Peter Godfrey.

After the death of a young heir, his surprise widow shows up and wants what's coming to her. It was a marriage of convenience: she was just helping a friend get his inheritance, but it's hers now. The mysterious uncle resists. What's going on in his locked laboratory, and what are those screams in the night?

A spooky house and eccentric family suspense mystery. It's a weak, implausible story but I enjoyed it more than I expected. My wife liked it and I recommend it to fans of the stars. All others: it's probably of low interest.

It is darker and more serious toned than a lot of 1940s Warner product. The photography is rather nice and shows a Hitchcockian interest in stairways and high angles.

Sometimes, in the declining phase of his career, Errol Flynn got the sort of non-swashbuckler, non-romance roles he always wanted. See That Forsyte Woman (1949) for another such from this period. He is subtly charming, quietly sinister, a thinking villain. Might we expect a twist at the end?

Barbara Stanwyck has her trademark steely glint and does more riding, climbing and hiding than is usual for her, but she was always a very tough lady. I note that she nicely fills out a pair of riding breeches. As an old Lucky Strike ad put it: "So round, so firm, so fully packed".

The young actress in panes 2, 4 and 5 below is sometimes a dead ringer for Natalie Portman. Her name is Geraldine Brooks, this is her first film, and although I don't remember seeing her, she did quite a lot of television work.

Lush Franz Waxman score. Edith Head wardrobe for Stanwyck.

A Warner Archive title available for rent from ClassicFlix.