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Cry Terror!

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Cry Terror!
Directed byAndrew L. Stone
Produced by
Screenplay byAndrew L. Stone
Narrated byInger Stevens (in a brief scene)
Music byHoward Jackson
CinematographyWalter Strenge
Edited byVirginia L. Stone
Andrew L. Stone Productions
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • May 2, 1958 (1958-05-02) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,020,000[1]

Cry Terror! (aka The Third Rail) is a 1958 thriller film starring James Mason, Inger Stevens, and Rod Steiger.[2] The cast also featured Neville Brand, Jack Klugman and Angie Dickinson.[3] The crime story was written and directed by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Andrew L. Stone. [N 1]


Paul Hoplin (Rod Steiger) is the mastermind of a crime to collect a $500,000 ransom, threatening to use an explosive device that Jim Molner (James Mason) designed. He and his gang are holding Molner, wife Joan (Inger Stevens) and young daughter Patty (Terry Ann Ross) hostage.

FBI agents gather in New York with representatives of an airline. Hoplin has been sending anonymous notes, suggesting that a bomb will be planted on an aircraft. Joan Molner is forced to go alone to collect the ransom payment, while Hoplin's accomplices, a woman named Kelly (Angie Dickinson) and a man named Vince (Jack Klugman), watch her husband and child in a Brooklyn penthouse apartment. Joan barely makes it back by the gang's deadline in time to prevent her husband's death. She is left alone with an ex-con, Steve (Neville Brand), who has a history of sexual assaults on women. Forced to defend herself, she kills Steve with a shard of glass.

Using the dental records of Kelly, the FBI manages to find the hideout. They disarm Vince and shoot Kelly, wounding her. Now they must find Molner's wife, but Hoplin has seen newspaper reports that her husband and daughter are safe. She runs for her life into a subway, and when Hoplin pursues her, he steps on a third rail and is electrocuted.



With the working title of The Third Rail, the production was shot from early August to early September 1957 in New York City.[5] For James Mason who had primarily taken on leading roles, with Cry Terror!, he began to take on "colorful supporting roles and character leads", a direction he continued until the end of his acting career.[6]


Box office

According to MGM records, Cry Terror! made $340,000 in the US and Canada and $680,000 elsewhere, resulting in a profit of $48,000.[1]

Critical response

Cry Terror! was critically reviewed in The New York Times by Bosley Crowther. He noted that the film was a "pallid" thriller: "People who have a particularly low and permissive frightening point may get a few chills from "Cry Terror," which came to the Victoria yesterday. For this strictly-for-kicks melodrama, which Andrew and Virginia Stone have made on an undisguised low budget for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, is full of the sort of fast arm-twisting and menacing of innocent people with senseless perils that passes for ruthless realism among those patrons who don't like to use their heads."[7]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz was not able to suspend his disbelief in his review of Cry Terror!, and wrote, "Director-writer Andrew L. Stone presents an ill-conceived attempt at making a realistic thriller about a mad bomber extorting money in a terrorist plot via the 1950s. There are too many implausible occurrences for the narrative to handle and it all falls by the tracks in the climactic hysterical underground subway chase scene, which yields to Hollywood melodrama ... Unfortunately the story lacked the kind of tension it needed throughout and there were too many coincidences and contrived plot points to sustain interest."[8]

See also



  1. ^ According to a February 1957 news item in The Hollywood Reporter, the film's original plot centered on a bomb extortionist being trapped in a subway.[4]


  1. ^ a b c "The Eddie Mannix Ledger." Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study (Los Angeles).
  2. ^ Cry Terror! at IMDb.
  3. ^ Halliwell 1989, p. 237.
  4. ^ "Review: 'Cry Terror!'." AFI, 2019. Retrieved: August 12, 2019.
  5. ^ "Original print information: 'Cry Terror'!" Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: February 26, 2017.
  6. ^ Maltin 1994, p. 574.
  7. ^ Crowther, Bosley. "Movie review: Pallid shocker; 'Cry Terror' opens at the Victoria." The New York Times, May 15, 1958. Retrieved: February 26, 2017.
  8. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. "Film review: 'Cry Terror!'" Archived 2015-09-28 at the Wayback Machine Ozus' World Movie Reviews, September 9, 2005. Retrieved: July 7, 2014.


  • Halliwell, Leslie. Leslie Halliwell's Film Guide. New York: Harper & Roe, 1989. ISBN 978-0-06016-322-8.
  • Maltin, Leonard. Leonard Maltin's Movie Encyclopedia. New York: Dutton, 1994. ISBN 0-525-93635-1.
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