Cry of the Innocent
Action, Drama | 93 mins | Released: 1980
Director: Michael O'Herlihy
Starring: Rod Taylor, Joanna Pettet, Nigel Davenport, Cyril Cusack, Walter Gotell, Jim Norton, Alexander Knox
Our Rating: 5
In Cry of the Innocent, Rod Taylor plays Steve Donegan, an American insurance executive, family man and former Green Beret. Cry of the Innocent was filmed entirely in Ireland, was made for Irish TV and exported to the U.S.
Cry of the Innocent is also known as “An Eye for an Eye” and is based on a novel by Frederick Forsyth, who also penned “Day of the Jackal” and “The Odessa File.”
Here’s a description and review of Cry of the Innocent from the Boston Globe, June 19, 1980:
Taylor, whose familiar craggy face is more deeply lined than when he played light romantic comedy, is Steve Donegan, an American insurance executive stationed in Dublin, married to an Irish national, with two small children. Joanna Pettet plays the wife briefly, and then as the wife’s look-alike, crusading newspaper reporter Candia Leighton, for most of the story.
Veteran Irish character actor Cyril Cusack is Dublin city detective Tom Moloney [and] Nigel Davenport is suave and sinister as Gray Harrison Hunt, the ruthless head of the powerful international conglomerate.
Donegan’s family perishes when a small plane, sabotaged by Hunt’s paid assassins, crashes into their seaside vacation cottage. The plane, carrying plans for a new industrial pharmacological process developed by a Hunt competitor, explodes prematurely, accidentally wiping out the Donegans.
The briefcase containing the formula survives the crash and fire and becomes the crux of the mystery, as first the other company, then the police, and finally Hunt attempts to get it away from Donegan. He launches his own probe, driven by vengeance, aided by Pettet and in a sporadic affiliation with Cusack.
Like “Jackal” and “Odessa,” “Innocent” begins slowly, almost leisurely, and builds to a crackling denouement with plenty of wild-and-wooly pyrotechnics. Donegan is an ex-Green Beret and uses his combat savvy, particularly in explosives and demolition, in derring-do action sequences.
One scene in Cry of the Innocent was played in a pub in Dublin’s liberties area. The pub was one of the mythical “4 corners of hell”, a crossroads with pubs on each corner. Rod Taylor was in TP’s bar.
Cry of the Innocent was shot in Ireland on a budget of one million dollars, financed by NBC. There were plans for a sequel, but these did not eventuate.
Notable Quotes from Cry of the Innocent:
Jack Brewster: “My name’s Brewster, Jack Brewster.”
Tom Moloney: “Aha”
Jack Brewster: “My grandmother was Irish.”
Tom Moloney: “Ah, yes. Wasn’t everybody’s?”
Reviews of Cry of the Innocent:
Okay time-killer with one standout feature
Author: vandino1 from United States – 23 October 2005
“This is an Irish film that premiered on American TV back in 1980. It’s nothing special. It’s a conspiracy story involving industrial spying and a plane from Rome that crashes in Ireland: certainly elements that you could see coming from the pen of Frederick Forsyth. It’s Rod Taylor’s family that is wiped out in the plane crash and, outraged at discovering that it was no accident, he finds a way to gain revenge on the people behind it. Taylor plays an American insurance exec in Ireland, but, of course, that isn’t a position with enough muscle and craftiness, so the writers also provide him with a background as a former Green Beret. This gives him filmic license to be as sharp and as deadly as they come. Guess those villains picked the wrong family to accidentally wipe out—now they’ve got an angry Rod to deal with. Actually, Taylor’s character and most of the others are cliché (including Pettet as the intrepid female reporter—yawn). But there IS one actor and character that stands out: Cyril Cusack as the Irish police inspector. His rumpled, calm and casual, yet brilliant inspector is the best thing in the film. He steals every scene. Too bad nothing further (another movie or even a TV series) was done with this delightful character. It’s the one thing to recommend in this otherwise ordinary revenge saga.”
Erin Go Boom
Author: Robert J. Maxwell from Deming, New Mexico, USA – 8 September 2014
“It’s an enjoyably tense television movie. Written by Frederick Forsythe, it has little action in it but a good deal of suspense. Forsythe has the peculiar characteristic of being able to invest small details with interest, especially technical details and complicated identity scams. This, being a TV movie, is going to lack much in the way of that talent and concentrates instead on simple intrigues and mysteries, some of which are left unexplained. People come and go, lying to and cheating one another, but it’s not high drama and it’s not witty.
The MacGuffin here is some formula for a super antibiotic as if we didn’t have enough antibiotics. It winds up by accident in Rod Taylor’s hands and the head honcho of the biggest, most villainous corporation you ever heard of wants it back. That accident, by the way, involves a light airplane crashing directly into Taylor’s cottage on the Kerry coast and killing his wife and two children. It’s made clear at the opening that Taylor is an ex-Green Beret, but that plays little part in the narrative until the ridiculous ending.
It may be one of Taylor’s best performances, TV movie or not. He’s aged, like a good wine. No longer the confident, tanned young hero of “The Birds”, he’s now a little puffy and from some angles looks uncannily like Robin Williams. By the time of “Welcome to Woop Woop,” he was an exophthalmic caricature of his former handsome self but it didn’t bother him and it was a viewer’s delight.
Joanna Petit has held up well. In fact — pretty well indeed. Her role, though, is a stereotype, the ambitious female reporter. Didn’t Dirty Harry get saddled with one of them somewhere along the line of sequels? The script is functional but lacks poetry. The location shooting in Ireland is just fine and County Kerry is just as I remember it — rainy, with “sun breaks.” At the climax, the film implodes. Characters change their features for reasons of the utmost stupidity. Here’s the villain who does the wet work, combing the grassy wind-swept hills, looking to kill Taylor who is hiding somewhere among the brush. He’s always been a cool customer, dressed in black, silent, full of self-control. But now he must cold-cock one of his partners in a fit of pique. Then he whirls around wildly, firing his pistol in all directions until he’s out of ammunition. He runs until he’s exhausted. Taylor corners him and the villain drops to his knees, sobbing and begging for mercy. Right.
There is one gem of a performance in the movie. Cyril Cusack’s police detective. The role, like that of the reporter, the head honcho and his goons, is a cliché. Cusack shows up once in a while to politely inform Taylor to keep his nose out of police business, forget about revenge, and let the cops do their jobs. But Cusack turns his appearances into something that brightens the whole show. He was equally good in another Forsythe story, “The Day of the Jackal.” Not the revolting remake, but the original.”