Cry Vengeance

September 21, 2011

Cry Vengeance (oh, those literary sounding titles!) is a noir from 1954, directed by and starring Mark Stevens, who also starred in The Dark Corner.  In both, he plays a guy who’s out of the joint for a crime he didn’t commit, and who’s a little bit crazy.  As Vic Barron, in Vengeance, he’s an ex-cop badly burned on his face from a car bomb that killed his wife and child.  The bomb was set off by Roxie, the platinum blonde psycho hit man who works for a mobster, Rick.  Vic thinks Tito did it and framed him for some unnamed crime.

Tito fled to Alaska to avoid Vic’s wrath before Vic was railroaded to jail.  Why would Tito, a big racketeer be so timid?  No clue, but Vic is one nasty, obsessed guy. Vic gets on Tito’s trail to a small town in Alaska, where he’s reformed, and is living as a good citizen with his little girl.  Vic’s friends try repeatedly to stop him from taking the law into his own hands:  “Can’t you just forget?”  Vic never forgets, and as one hood asks sensibly, would you?

Vic is so obsessed with revenge, and his character is so tightly wound, that we think he might actually kidnap and kill Tito’s little girl to get even.  He surprises her at play, takes out his gun, and gives her a bullet, a present for her dad.  Daddy will get the message.  It’s a very creepy scene.

Although the plot is sort of mechanical, and some of the characters flat and unbelievable (the two mobsters on the lam, in particular) the movie works because of the incredible tension generated by Vic’s monosyllabic conversation, and his smoldering, corrosive, hatred and drive.  Roxie, the ice-cold killer with the dandified looks adds a wonderful sick and sinister note to the show.