Cast & Crew
After Sandra Marshall learns that James Demarest has died, she surprises his uncle, Mark Caldwell, with the news that she and Jim were secretly married. Although Sandra shows Mark a marriage license, he refuses to believe her claim because Jim never mentioned it. Sandra reminds Mark of the conditions of Jim's mother's will: Jim's money was to be held in trust until he reached thirty or until he married. She had married Jim as a favor, in exchange for the money which she needed to finish her education. At the end of six months, she was to divorce him, but as only five months have passed since the marriage, Sandra now stands to inherit two million dollars. At dinner, Sandra meets Jim's younger sister Julie, who berates Mark for opening a letter addressed to her from Ronnie Manning, the boy she loves. Later, Sandra questions Julie and learns that Mark had interfered with Jim's engagement to another woman. Because Jim was buried in a closed casket, Sandra is surprised to learn that he died of pneumonia. She is also shocked by the restrictions Mark places on Julie, who is not allowed to leave the estate and is constantly watched by the servants. That night, an hysterical Julie runs into Sandra's room, frightened by the sound of agonized cries coming from Mark's laboratory. Sandra tries to calm her, then hears the cries herself. The next morning, following Sandra's directions, Julie tells Mark about the sounds, but omits mentioning her visit to Sandra's room. Mark attributes her experience to a vivid imagination. When Sandra later examines Jim's room, she notices that his pipes and sports clothes are missing, and Julie becomes agitated at the thought that her brother might still be alive. When Mark hears this, he locks Julie in her room and orders Sandra not to fill her head with fantasies. That night, Sandra enters the laboratory through the dumbwaiter. She eavesdrops on a conversation between Mark and Jackson Laidell, a servant, about the lodge at Three Hills, but her investigations are cut short by a woman's scream. Julie has fallen to her death from her window. When Mark calls the fall an accident, Sandra accuses him of lying and reveals that she also heard the screams during the night. After Julie's funeral, Mark tells Sandra that proof of her marriage to Jim has been discovered and apologizes for his rudeness to her. Sandra accepts his apology, but still determined to learn the truth, takes a horseback ride to the lodge at Three Hills. There she learns that Jim is still alive. At first Jim does not recognize her, but then tells her that he will escape that night and meet her at the house. Back at the house, Sandra confronts Mark with her knowledge that Jim is alive. Mark explains that when Jim and Julie's father died, he was violently insane, and consequently, their mother put their inheritance in trust. Jim is being kept a prisoner because he killed a man in a fight, a scandal that would have ruined the political career of Mark's brother Charles. The judge agreed to keep the murder a secret as long as Mark kept Jim away from others. Mark adds that Julie must have suspected the truth and killed herself. As Mark finishes his story, Jim appears, and a struggle ensues, during which Jim is killed. Mark and Sandra are now free to pursue the possibility of a romance.
Ann Del Valle
Leo F. Forbstein
Jack L. Warner
Carl Jules Weyl
Though Flynn was irked that he had been cast in Cry Wolf in absentia by studio head Jack Warner while he was buying property in Jamaica, the role of the secretive Mark Caldwell had allure for Flynn, then seeking parts requiring greater dramatic range than those offered by his usual swashbucklers, westerns, and combat films. Shooting is reported to have gotten off to a rocky start, with the rakish Flynn allegedly making an off-color remark to Stanwyck about her studio-sanctioned marriage to Taylor. (In some revisionist Hollywood histories, Flynn is alleged to have held a grudge against Taylor for rebuffing his sexual advances in years past, while Taylor definitely resented Flynn for having sat out World War II with a heart murmur.)Whatever Stanwyck's response might have been has been lost to time but it is telling that the studio felt it prudent to release a statement in Stanwyck's name in advance of the film's premiere: "People say terrible things about Errol Flynn. I have never worked with anyone nicer. He was on time, he knew his lines, he was a perfect gentleman."
If The Two Mrs. Carrolls had been a veritable old dark house film minus the old dark house, Cry Wolf evened the balance, setting its tale in an ancestral manse out of Charlotte Brontë, complete with forbidden laboratories, dodgy servants, cries in the night, and a resourceful heroine in Stanwyck's unstoppable Sandra Marshall. Sold as a borderline horror film, Cry Wolf seemed to take inspiration from the Universal Studios school of fear-mongering, while its allocation of heroic deeds to a strong female lead seems influenced by the shockers produced by Val Lewton at RKO, particularly I Walked with a Zombie (1943) and The Seventh Victim (1943). (Prominent among the supporting players was the baleful Helene Thimig, who had appeared in Lewton's Isle of the Dead , opposite Boris Karloff.) The Gothic ambiance is furthered by Franz Waxman's stormy orchestrations and the evocative cinematography of Carl Guthrie, who later shot William Castle's House on Haunted Hill (1959). Special effects photography was by Robert Burks, a master of forced perspective who graduated to work as a director of photography, most notably for Alfred Hitchcock.
Critics of the day were generally unkind to the one and only onscreen pairing of Barbara Stanwyck and Errol Flynn and Cry Wolf, while moderately successful, faded swiftly into obscurity. Both actors rallied in more successful projects - Flynn in the Oscar®-winning Adventures of Don Juan (1948), Kim (1950), and a handful of later career swashbucklers and Stanwyck in Sorry, Wrong Number (1948), The Furies (1950), and Clash by Night (1952) - and both experimented with varying degrees of success in the burgeoning medium of television. However it may have denied moviegoers of the postwar era what they expected of the stars of Double Indemnity (1944) and The Sea Hawk (1940), Cry Wolf endures sixty-odd years later as an entertaining experiment, one giving its principal players a taste of something completely different. Flynn clearly relished the opportunity to play a man of high breeding and erudition, yet one guided by hardwired propriety and hobbled by mounting guilt, while Stanwyck was an inspired midlife Nancy Drew, creeping through the shadows at zero-dark-thirty, folding herself into dumbwaiters and spidering across gabled rooftops to gain access into Flynn's forbidden attic laboratory.
Producer: Henry Blanke
Director: Peter Godfrey
Screenplay: Catherine Turney (screenplay); Marjorie Carleton (novel)
Cinematography: Carl Guthrie
Art Direction: Carl Jules Weyl
Music: Franz Waxman
Film Editing: Folmer Blangsted
Cast: Errol Flynn (Mark Caldwell), Barbara Stanwyck (Sandra Marshall), Geraldine Brooks (Julie Demarest), Richard Basehart (James Caldwell Demarest), Jerome Cowan (Sen. Charles Caldwell), John Ridgely (Jackson Laidell), Patricia White (Angela, Maid), Rory Mallinson (Becket, Butler), Helen Thimig (Marta, Housekeeper), Paul Stanton (Davenport)
by Richard Harland Smith
According to a August 9, 1945 Hollywood Reporter news item, Warner Bros. bought the Marjorie Carlton novel as a vehicle for Barbara Stanwyck and Dennis Morgan. Although the onscreen credits indicate that Geraldine Brooks made her debut in this film, she appeared in the Warner Bros. film Possessed, which was released earlier in 1947.