AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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Cry 'Havoc'
Director: Richard Thorpe (Dir)
Release Date:   Feb 1944
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 23 Nov 1943
Production Date:   13 May--30 Jun 1943; addl scenes 19 Jul--20 Jul, 16 Sep--late Sep 1943
Duration (in mins):   97-98
Duration (in feet):   8,755
Duration (in reels):   10
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Cast:   Margaret Sullavan (Lieutenant [Mary "Smitty"] Smith)  
    Ann Sothern (Pat [Conlin])  
    Joan Blondell (Grace [Lambert])  
    Fay Bainter (Captain [Alice] Marsh)  
    Marsha Hunt (Flo Norris)  
    Ella Raines (Connie [Booth])  
    Frances Gifford (Helen [Domeret])  
    Diana Lewis (Nydia [Joyce])  
    Heather Angel (Andra [West])  
    Dorothy Morris (Sue [West])  
    Connie Gilchrist (Sadie)  
    Gloria Grafton ([Stephena] Steve [Polden])  
    Fely Franquelli (Luisita [Esperito])  
    Billy Cruz (Filipino boy)  
    Roque Espiritu (Filipino boy)  
    Allan Byron (Lt. Thomas Holt)  
    William Bishop (Soldier)  
    Victor Kilian Jr. (Soldier)  
    Joy Louie (Frightened child)  
    Morris Ankrum (Chaplain)  
    George Beban Jr. (Dying man)  
    Richard Derr (Marine)  
    Anna Q. Nilsson (Nurse)  
    Robert Mitchum (Groaning soldier)  
    Lorin Raker (Voice of Japanese pilot)  
    Bob Lowell (Dying soldier)  
    Russ Clark (Doctor)  
    James Warren    
    Richard Crane    
    Bill Cartledge    
    Paul Oman    

Summary: At a U.S. military hospital in Marivèles, on the Bataan Peninsula of the Philippines, overworked Army nurse Lt. Mary "Smitty" Smith, begs her superior, Capt. Alice Marsh, for more nurses. Instead of nurses, Smitty receives nine civilian refugees from Manila. As Japanese forces are moving closer to Marivèles every day, Smitty feels compelled to accept the female volunteers and questions each one about her background. Smitty soon discovers that all of the women are ill-equipped for the front and none has had medical training. After Capt. Marsh warns the group to expect extreme hardship, Smitty, who herself has contracted malaria, orders everyone to take quinine. Working class volunteer Pat Conlin resents Smitty's cool, no-nonsense manner and ignores her order, but is happy to be assigned to the Signal Corps switchboard, where handsome Lt. Thomas Holt works. Later, in the underground bunker that serves as their living quarters, the volunteers share their fears and hopes. After delivering a moving speech about freedom, Sue West, a young, genteel English volunteer, wanders outside. When an air raid begins, Sue's older sister Andra becomes worried, but is prevented from searching for Sue during the attack. Once the bombing is over, the volunteers, Capt. Marsh, Smitty and fellow nurse Flo Norris rush to the hospital, which has been hit. Volunteer Grace Lambert, a former burlesque dancer, is shocked by the dying soldiers but, along with the others, does her best to help. Days later, while Andra goes out to look for the still-missing Sue, Pat admits to the others that she is infatuated with Lt. Holt. When Flo mentions to Pat that Smitty also has feelings for the officer, the ever-cynical Pat is unimpressed. That night, Andra learns that Sue has been found alive, after having spent days trapped in a shelter with several corpses. When Andra leaves to retrieve her sister, Pat lets down her guard and makes friends with her former "enemy," Connie Booth. The well-bred Connie admits to being terrified, but Pat reassures her that she is tougher than she thinks. Andra then returns to the bunker with Sue, who is now deranged and helpless. Although Grace tries to distract the women by performing one of her burlesque dances, Sue's anguished screams unnerve them all. Soon after, Flo reports that the U.S. supply ship was sunk by the Japanese. Another air raid then begins, and the Japanese once again bomb the hospital. After the all-clear sounds, the women run to help the wounded and are surprised when the bombing suddenly resumes. During the second raid, Grace's leg is injured, and Smitty criticizes her for being careless. Angered, Grace tells Smitty that Pat is stealing Lt. Holt away from her, and once alone, Smitty breaks down in tears. Smitty, who is suffering a recurrence of her malaria, is somewhat relieved, however, when Lt. Holt telephones her and reassures her of his love. Seeing the stricken Smitty, Sadie, the company cook, advises her to leave on the next transport to Corregidor, but Smitty angrily dismisses her concerns. Later, Smitty announces that no more supplies are coming in and advises the women that, while General Douglas MacArthur has ordered the Army to "dig in," they are free to leave. After some debate, all of the volunteers, including a transformed Connie, elect to stay. Six weeks later, the women learn that MacArthur has been sent to Australia, ending any speculation that a rescue is imminent. Connie is then shot and killed by a Japanese gunner. Connie's death infuriates Pat, who, in an attempt to bolster the women's resolve, shows them a map detailing the U.S.'s attack strategy. Aware that Pat got the map from Lt. Holt, Smitty is overcome with jealousy and yells at her. Flo then forces the feverish Smitty to lie down, and while resting, Smitty confesses to Flo that she is married to Lt. Holt, but has kept their relationship a secret because of an Army regulation forbidding nurses from marrying soldiers. Smitty also reveals that, as her malaria is terminal, she intends to spend as much time as possible with her husband. Flo suggests that Smitty tell Pat the truth, but Smitty refuses. Soon after, the Japanese begin to close in on the camp, and a desperate evacuation ensues. When word arrives that Lt. Holt has been killed, both Pat and Smitty are stunned with grief. Flo finally tells Pat about Smitty's situation, and while impressed by Smitty's courage, Pat criticizes her for keeping her marriage a secret. Moments later, the women are forced to surrender to the Japanese. As they are exiting the bunker for the last time, Smitty admits to Pat that she was wrong not to tell her about her marriage. Touched by Smitty's honesty, Pat assures her that Lt. Holt was a faithful husband to the end. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Richard Thorpe (Dir)
  Rollie Asher (Asst dir)
Producer: Edwin Knopf (Prod)
Writer: Paul Osborn (Scr)
  Jane Murfin (Contr wrt)
Photography: Karl Freund (Dir of photog)
  Hal Rosher (Dir of photog)
  Harkness Smith (2d cam)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Stephen Goossón (Assoc)
Film Editor: Ralph E. Winters (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
  Glen Barner (Assoc)
Costumes: Irene (Cost supv)
Music: Daniele Amfitheatrof (Mus score)
  Nathaniel Shilkret (Mus dir)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
  Frank B. MacKenzie (Unit mixer)
  Standish J. Lambert (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  Robert W. Shirley (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  Newell Sparks (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  William Steinkamp (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  Michael Steinore (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  John A. Williams (Re-rec and eff mixer)
  Earl Cates (Mus mixer)
  M. J. McLaughlin (Mus mixer)
  Herbert Stahlberg (Mus mixer)
Special Effects: A. Arnold Gillespie (Miniatures and transparency projection shots)
  Warren Newcombe (Matte paintings)
  Mark Davis (Matte paintings cam)
Make Up: Jack Dawn (Makeup created by)
Production Misc: Col. Milton A. Hill (Tech adv)
  Art Smith (Unit mgr)
Stand In: Helen Parker (Stand-in for Ann Sothern)
Country: United States
Language: English

Source Text: Based on the play Cry Havoc by Allan R. Kenward (New York, 25 Dec 1942).
Authors: Allan R. Kenward

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 4/1/1944 dd/mm/yyyy LP12519 Yes

PCA NO: 9538
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

Genre: Drama
Sub-Genre: Medical
  World War II
Subjects (Major): Merivèles Bay (Philippines)
  Nurses, Military
  World War II
Subjects (Minor): Bombing, Aerial
  Burlesque dancers
  Class distinction
  Officers (Military)
  Shell shock
  Telephone operators
  Unrequited love
  Upper classes
  War injuries
  Women military officers

Note: The film opens with the following spoken foreword: "This is the story of thirteen women. Only two of them--Captain Alice Marsh and Lieutenant Mary Smith--were members of the Armed Forces of the United States. The others were civilians, American women, who until that fateful day in December, knew no more of war than did you, or your nearest neighbor." Although the cast of this film is usually referred to as "all-female," many male actors appeared in small roles. "Lt. Holt" is first seen briefly in a long shot, then is heard as an offscreen voice for the remainder of the film. Many reviewers commented on the similarities between this film and M-G-M's "all-male" 1943 war drama Bataan . Both films are about the battle of Bataan, and both films feature thirteen principal characters trapped in a hopeless struggle. For more information about the Bataan campaign, see above entry for Bataan .
       HR news items add the following information about the production: In early Oct 1942, M-G-M purchased Allan Kenward's play for $20,000, two weeks after it had opened at a small theater in Hollywood. When theatrical producer Lee Shubert picked up the play for a Broadway run, he requested a waiver from a Dramatists Guild Council rule stipulating that a play purchased for the screen cannot be mounted on stage until one year after its sale. Shubert argued that, because of the timeliness of the play's subject matter, a one-year delay might doom any stage production. In early Nov 1942, the Dramatists' Guild granted Shubert the waiver, and the play opened on Broadway on 25 Dec 1942 under the title Proof Through the Night . On 30 Dec 1942, HR announced that the play's name was being changed back to Cry 'Havoc' , possibly because of bad notices. M-G-M paid an additional $15,000 for the rights to the Broadway production. Although Mervyn LeRoy, who was first assigned to direct the picture, was slated to shoot the Broadway production before starting principal photography on the film, it is not known if this filming ever took place. LeRoy was replaced by Richard Thorpe in early Apr 1943.
       Many leading actresses were considered for roles in the film, including Joan Crawford and Merle Oberon. Crawford was first announced in the role of "Smitty," then was cast as "Pat" against Oberon's "Smitty." Hedy Lamarr reportedly asked to be cast "in any role." Between early Dec 1942 and early May 1943, the following actresses were either considered for roles or were cast in parts: Bonita Granville, Eve Arden, Lana Turner, Donna Reed, Susan Peters, Helene Reynolds, June Millarde, June Allyson, Mary Elliott, Frances Rafferty, Diana Lynn, Mary Treen, Marilyn Maxwell, Ann Sheridan, Laura La Plante, Elena Verdugo, Kay Medford and Chinese ingenue Tsing. None of them, however, appeared in the completed film. Frances Gifford, who plays "Helen" in the film, originally tested for the role of "Connie." Ann Sothern was not cast as Pat until early Apr 1943, and Margaret Sullavan was not cast as Smitty until early May 1943. Cry 'Havoc' marked Sullavan's first film since the 1941 Universal picture Appointment for Love (see above entry). She did not appear in another film until Columbia's 1950 release No Sad Songs for Me (see entry below). Gloria Grafton made her screen debut in the film. Some scenes were filmed in Pico, near Montebello, CA. Technical director Col. Milton A. Hill was Inspector General under General Douglas MacArthur on the last submarine to leave Corregidor. Although Karl Freund is credited onscreen as director of photography, Hal Rosher is listed as photographer in all HR production charts. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   13 Nov 1943.   
Daily Variety   5 Nov 43   p. 4.
Film Daily   9 Nov 43   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Oct 42   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   12 Oct 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Oct 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Nov 42   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   10 Nov 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Nov 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Dec 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   7 Dec 42   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Dec 42   p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter   30 Dec 42   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Apr 43   p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Apr 43   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Apr 43   p. 1, 4
Hollywood Reporter   19 Apr 43   p. 6, 8
Hollywood Reporter   20 Apr 43   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   23 Apr 43   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Apr 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Apr 43   p. 2, 8
Hollywood Reporter   28 Apr 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Apr 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   4 May 43   p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter   6 May 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   13 May 43   p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter   14 May 43   p. 6, 8
Hollywood Reporter   1 Jun 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Jun 43   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   15 Jun 43   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   25 Jun 43   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   1 Jul 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   21 Jul 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   2 Sep 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   17 Sep 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   20 Sep 43   p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter   5 Nov 43   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   29 Nov 43   p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald   6 Nov 43   p. 7.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   25 Sep 43   p. 1555.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   6 Nov 43   p. 1614.
New York Times   24 Nov 43   p. 16.
Variety   10 Nov 43   p. 34.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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