Cast & Crew
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.
Victor Kilian Jr.
George Beban Jr.
Anna Q. Nilsson
A. Arnold Gillespie
Col. Milton A. Hill
Standish J. Lambert
Frank B. Mackenzie
M. J. Mclaughlin
Robert W. Shirley
John A. Williams
Edwin B. Willis
Ralph E. Winters
Despite a set filled with actresses, there were no problems with ego on the set of Cry Havoc. With no feuds to report, publicists focused on the similarity between two of the leads - Ann Sothern and Joan Blondell. But in an interview about the film, Sothern commented, "when we appeared side by side there was no need for either of us to change hair color or make-up as we weren't alike at all." Blondell, it seems, disagreed about the resemblance. After an absence from the screen to get married, Blondell said on her return, "My friends told me Ann Sothern had forgotten how to do me."
The movie marked a special moment in Ann Sothern's personal life. During the filming of Cry Havoc she married second husband Robert Sterling on May 23, 1943. Sterling, son of Chicago Cub Walter S. Hart, was born William John Hart. He started out as a clothing salesman before being spotted by a talent scout for Columbia Pictures and landing in Hollywood in 1938. Columbia offered Sterling a short-term contract, and he appeared in sixteen studio releases before switching over to Fox. The Fox contract was short lived, and Sterling moved to his third studio, MGM.
It was at MGM in 1941 that Sterling and Sothern would meet, as co-stars in Ringside Maisie. Ann, however, was still married to first husband Roger Pryor at the time. Later, after separating from Pryor, Sothern would bump into Sterling again - while visiting Robert's neighbor, Hedy Lamarr. This time, apparently sparks flew and the twosome starting dating, amid much speculation in fan magazines. Sterling enlisted in the Army Air Corp in 1942 and was stationed in Phoenix. Once Ann's divorce was final, the couple agreed to marry, but with both their schedules, it was difficult to find time. An emergency appendectomy for Sterling would eventually provide the opportunity. Following his surgery, Sterling was given two weeks leave. And as a wedding gift, Cry Havoc director Richard Thorpe gave Ann a one day vacation from shooting.
Cry Havoc was filmed by MGM at the same time the studio was making Bataan with Robert Taylor so it was likely that the two films shared some of the same sets. Also, both films were typical of the pro-American propaganda entertainments that were being cranked out by Hollywood during WWII. In particular, the brutality of the Japanese is emphasized in Cry Havoc which includes a scene where a defenseless American nurse is machine-gunned by an enemy fighter pilot while bathing in a stream. In defiance, one of the surviving nurses promises, "We'll get him, we'll get every mother's son of them!"
While Cry Havoc stands as a testament to the heroism of American nurses during the Pacific Campaign, it was also an opportunity for Ann Sothern to show her own patriotism. In addition to appearing in films like Cry Havoc, she kept busy during the war years touring camps and hospitals, working as a volunteer at the Hollywood Canteen, and even making an appearance in a film short for the Department of War Information entitled You, John Jones.
Producer: Edwin Knopf
Director: Richard Thorpe
Screenplay: Allan Kenward (play Proof Through the Night), Paul Osborn, Jane Murfin (uncredited)
Cinematography: Karl Freund
Costume Design: Irene
Film Editing: Ralph E. Winters
Original Music: Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cast: Margaret Sullavan (Lt. Mary Smith), Ann Sothern (Pat Conlin), Joan Blondell (Grace Lambert), Fay Bainter (Capt. Alice Marsh), Marsha Hunt (Flo Norris), Ella Raines (Connie), Frances Gifford (Helen), Diana Lewis (Nydia), Heather Angel (Andra).
BW-98m. Closed captioning.
by Stephanie Thames
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, for Bataan.
Hollywood Reporter news items add the following information about the production: In early October 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 November 1942, the Dramatists' Guild granted Shubert the waiver, and the play opened on Broadway on December 25, 1942 under the title Proof Through the Night. On December 30, 1942, Hollywood Reporter 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 April 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 December 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 April 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 . She did not appear in another film until Columbia's 1950 release No Sad Songs for Me . 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 Hollywood Reporter production charts.
Released in United States Winter February 1944
Released in United States 1997
Released in United States Winter February 1944
Released in United States 1997 (Shown in New York City (Walter Reade) as part of program "American Romantics: Frank Borzage and Margaret Sullavan" August 22 - September 16, 1997.)