Cry Vengeance (1954)

 “Nobody wins a tie score.”

In the crime drama Cry Vengeance former San Francisco policeman Vic Barron (Mark Stevens) is released from San Quentin after being framed by a gang of hoodlums. His three year sentence, and the fact that his wife and child were killed by a bomb meant for him–finds him thirsting for revenge.

Barron’s first act upon his release is to buy a gun, and then he hits his old haunts looking for information on the man he thinks is responsible for the deaths of his wife and child–Tino Morelli (Douglas Kennedy). He visits Lily (Joan Vohs) and learns that Tino is now living in Ketchikan, Alaska, and he follows the trail there.

Cry Vengeance is touted as film noir, but it’s more a tale of revenge–and a rather dull lackluster one at that. The plot is old and tired and seems to go through the motions of the vengeful hunt with little conviction. Some areas of the plot remain muddy, and this combined with weak characterizations cause the film to fail. The film isn’t helped by the fact that the story begins with Barron’s release from jail. Without a glimpse of Barron’s life as a policeman, husband and father before his family was killed, we don’t feel the emotional impact of what he’s lost, and the entire frame-up charge that resulted in a jail sentence is vague. The absence of these elements–Barron’s emotional life before the deaths of his wife and child, and the frame that sent him to jail–essentially removes most of the tension and emotional interest from the film. Instead, we are left with stock characters that lack depth and individuality. Mark Stevens who plays Barron also directed the film, and while the plot has all the necessary hallmarks of the revenge tale, it failed to grip this viewer.

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