Cry Terror! (1958)

Cry Terror! (1958)

Jim Molner (James Mason) owns an electronics store and was duped into making a couple of small detonators for Paul Hoplin (Rod Steiger) a former Army demolitions expert. Hoplin told Molner they were for the military but filled them with an explosive element second only to plutonium and had them planted on an airplane by Eileen Kelly (Angie Dickinson). We find out these details in part through the FBI’s investigation after the plane makes an emergency landing and the bombs are neutralized. A call was made which tipped off the head of Twentieth Century Airlines before they were to explode. The FBI task force headed by Frank Cole (Kenneth Tobey) quickly determines that the detonators were made by Molner and suspects he is the one who is trying to extort $500000 else he’ll actually blow up a plane this time. However Molner his wife Joan (Inger Stevens) and their preschool daughter have been kidnapped by Hoplin and his associates which in addition to Kelly consists of Vince (Jack Klugman) and Steve (Neville Brand). They’ve taken the Molners to a secluded home in which Hoplin tells Molner that his wife will be the bag lady for the ransom else they’ll kill his daughter. A game of chicken between the Molners and Hoplin changes the plan slightly; Molner is allowed to go with his daughter Kelly & Vince to another location while his wife will stay with have to stay alone with Steve for some periods of time.

It turns out Steve is somewhat unstable and was in prison for raping and/or killing a woman. This makes the moments when Steve is alone with Joan a little dicey. The first time it happens Hoplin returns in time to prevent Joan from suffering Steve’s previous victim’s fate. Molner & his daughter are taken by Vince & Kelly to her penthouse apartment where Kelly has promised to stick a shiv (a very sharp knife) through his daughter’s belly if his wife is not successful. Joan is given a complex set of instructions to follow the first of which are to go to the bank where the FBI task force has assembled to compile the money. She tells them about the kidnapping and though they’re not 100% sure that she’s telling them the truth they give her the money and send her on her way without tailing her. Her next instructions are designed to throw off anyone who may follow her. But if she doesn’t arrive at the (now) third house where Hoplin and Steve are waiting by 1:30 PM Vince & Kelly will get a call to dispose of Molner & his daughter. Of course she makes an error which after she corrects it puts her chances of getting to the house on time in jeopardy.

Unfortunately what was a fairly taught and interesting story turns into something with very little credibility at this point. If you thought the FBI’s finding out that the original detonators were made by Molner was impossibly fast "you ain’t seen nothin’ yet". Plus Molner is left alone in the loft of Kelly’s apartment with his conveniently asleep daughter and enough time & freedom of movement to figure out a plan of action (which in the end didn’t accomplish anything anyway). This is AFTER Hoplin already has the money more alone time between Steve and Joan with improbable consequences and yet another meaningless location change. I’m afraid my intelligence was insulted just a few two many times for me to recommend this film.

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