When Sandra Marshall (Barbara Stanwyck) gets word that Jim, her husband of five months, has passed away, she does what any good wife would do and goes to see his family. But Sandra and Jim’s marriage wasn’t exactly conventional. Their marriage was a secret and they had an arrangement to stay married for six months so he could collect money from his trust fund. Sandra visits Jim’s scientist uncle Mark Caldwell (Errol Flynn), who is naturally surprised, yet skeptical, to hear his brother had a wife. But until her claims can be proven, she stays at the family home.
The more time Sandra spends with Jim’s family, the more strange behavior she sees. First of all, Jim’s funeral was closed casket, which is odd considering he allegedly died of pneumonia. When Sandra visit’s Jim’s room, she finds all his sport clothes and pipes are missing. Mark is also disturbingly controlling of Jim’s younger sister, Julie (Geraldine Brooks). He has the family’s servants constantly monitoring Julie, he reads her mail, and he refuses to let her leave the estate. Sandra and Julie quickly become friends and when Julie hears screams coming from Mark’s laboratory, Sandra goes with her to investigate. Although Mark later tries to dismiss Julie’s claims of hearing screams as nothing more than her imagination, Sandra heard the screams too and suspects it may have been Jim’s screams they heard.
For the most part, I liked Cry Wolf. I like movies that keep me guessing and Cry Wolf did just that. It also did a good job of not letting me quite pinpoint Mark’s motives up until the very end. But unfortunately, since I couldn’t fully figure out what type of person Mark was, it made it a little hard for me to be satisfied with the ending. However, I did enjoy seeing Errol Flynn in a role different from the usual swashbuckler/adventure type movies I”m used to seeing him in. He was good, as was Barbara Stanwyck. However, the script isn’t quite strong enough to elevate Cry Wolf from being a good movie to a great movie.
Brothers Geoffrey (Errol Flynn) and Perry Vickers (Patric Knowles) are both British Lancers stationed in India. Geoffrey is engaged to Elsa Campbell (Olivia de Havilland), daughter of Colonel Campbell (Donald Crisp). Unbeknownst to Geoffrey, Elsa and Perry have been seeing each other for a while and have fallen in love with each other. When Perry tries telling Geoffrey about Elsa, Geoffrey refuses to hear any of it. The news drives a wedge between Geoffrey and Perry and they stay estranged even as they are ordered to different outposts.
Geoffrey is sent to Chukoti and Perry goes to Lohara. When Geoffrey’s troops are ordered to Lohara on maneuvers, Col. Campbell disregards warnings about the potential for an attack by Surat Kahn (C. Henry Gordon) and sends most of the soldiers to Lohara anyway. Sure enough, Kahn attacks and it’s a far more brutal attack than anyone could have anticipated. Not only are many soldiers killed, Kahn’s troops also slaughter many of Chukoti’s women and children. Geoffrey and Elsa survive, but Geoffrey finally begins to see that Elsa really does love Perry.
When Kahn joins forces with the Russians, Geoffrey is sent to Crimea, but is given orders not to attack Kahn. However, Geoffrey wants to avenge the attack at Chukoti and re-writes the orders so that he can lead an attack on Kahn. The attack would be a suicide mission and he knows it. In one final act of nobility, he arranges it so that Perry will be away from the action and will live to marry Elsa.
The Charge of the Light Brigade is a first-rate adventure movie. Adventure movies aren’t always my thing, but Charge of the Light Brigade has plenty of thrilling action scenes paired with an intriguing human interest story; a nice balance for my taste. (However, I’m not a fan of the fact that so many horses were hurt or killed during production, Congress had to step in and create laws to protect animals on film sets.) I wish Olivia de Havilland’s role had been more substantial; it wasn’t a particularly interesting role. But it is awfully hard to resist getting to watch Errol Flynn at his peak, doing what Errol Flynn did best. It may not be very historically accurate, but it sure was entertaining.
How is it already June? But anyway, it’s shaping up to be a fun month on TCM. Every Thursday this month, TCM will be showing a night full of classic drive-in movies. So if you’re like me and love cheesy monster movies, you’re going to love this month. There’s also the return of Essentials, Jr. on Sunday nights at 8:00 PM, hosted this year by Bill Hader. The Star of the Month is the lovely Jean Simmons, who I’ve always found to be a bit on the under-appreciated side. With no further ado, let’s go on to my TCM picks for the month…