For Reel

Cry ‘Havoc’ (1943)
March 29, 2015, 9:31 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Richard Thorpe
3.5 Stars
Cry 'Havoc'One would be hard-pressed to find a better cast of actresses than the one established in Cry ‘Havoc’, a rather unusual World War II propaganda film starring almost exclusively women. The film takes places almost entirely in a bunker in Bataan in which a group of nine nurses (mostly volunteers) wait out their inevitable confrontation with the Japanese. Margaret Sullavan and Ann Southern share the lion’s share of the screen time, and watching them together shows a nice contrast in two disparate but equally wonderful performers. Both are intentionally unglamorized and carry it through with their physical performances–Sullivan is often sullen and hunched over, traversing her space with a heavy-footed sort of step, while Sothern carries herself with a certain cocksure attitude that reads almost masculine. Providing support are excellent supporting players like Joan Blondell, Fay Bainter, and the underrated Marsha Hunt, who gives a nice performance as the only one of the volunteers with actual medical experience. Being a wartime production, the film stops often for characters to recite speeches about the virtues of freedom and the importance of sacrifice, but the film occasionally balances such overstated moments with nicely accomplished, quiet gestures, such as Sullavan walking through the living space of a fallen soldier and considering his absence in the room.

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