As different as the street language of the gangster, detective, or newspaper film is from the high society chatter of the screwball comedy, all these genres are characterized by a rapid-fire delivery, a lovely zippy rhythm. In all cases, it is a cinema that has a buoyant energy and expresses that energy in a rapid, clever, excited use of language. There is a love of language here that seems to reflect a love of life. – John Fawell, THE HIDDEN ART OF HOLLYWOOD: In Defense of the Studio Era Film (Greenwood Publishing 2008) p. 169
What I love about Hollywood movies of the classic period is their lack of pretentiousness, of not letting an earnest story-line become overwhelming and making the movie experience oppressive. After all entertainment was their business. You see this best in those gratuitous interludes that do not advance the plot nor involve the protagonists, and usually work, in the limited time allowed them, through clever dialog, and by, to paraphrase Fawell, rapid-fire delivery and a zippy rhythm.
A Cry in the Night (1956) is a solid Warner Bros. b of 75 minutes from director Frank Tuttle (This Gun for Hire (1942), Suspense (1946), Hell on Frisco Bay (1955)), in which an intelligent script by David Dortort, from a novel by Whit Masterson (aka H. William Miller), manages to survey parenthood and rebellious teens while telling the story of an 18-yo girl’s abduction by a disturbed 32-yo loner still tied to his mother’s apron-strings. The story of the abduction and the police search takes place over a few hours after midnight. Raymond Burr excels as the mama’s boy, and Natalia Wood is really impressive as the abducted girl. Edmund O’Brien plays the girl’s father, a blustery off-duty cop, and Brian Donlevy is the steady police captain heading the search.
As the investigation progresses, many of the film’s scenes switch between the local police station and the cops out on the trail of the suspect. Half-way through the film, the script in a nicely comic interlude introduces another shift back to the station. This throw-away scene, which is so well-crafted it is as memorable as the movie, is shown in the following clip. B-stringer Tina Carver plays the dame.