Cry Of Terror

TAPED April 1970

I have been totally amazed at the viewer response to the INSIGHT posts, both on my website and my Facebook page. An added reward has been reading Comments like the following:

“Insight” was a show that I recall viewing as a child, in the early morning hours of the weekend before everyone would wake up. Not once did I think that it was a religious program, but a venue for a moral tale.

Wow… I remember this show from when I was a little kid. They used to run it early mornings before or after “Davy and Goliath” back in the early 70′s. They were still running it when I got older in the late 70′s. I always wondered what had happened to this show. I remember even as a little kid, being pretty amazed at how many big name actors appeared on it.

I used to watch this as a kid on Sunday mornings, after Davey and Goliath. Even though I was only about 11 or so, my tv viewing became a little more spiritual on Sunday morning!

…one can see how Insight can have an influence on a young Catholic kid (and non Catholics as well) watching these in theology class.

I was just a child when Insight was on but the stories must have been powerful because I remember scenes from some of them.

Love this show which in my single digit years was a fixture on Sunday mornings in my house thanks to Dad. I.wish they had all of them on DVD or in a set of some kind.

INSIGHT programming was targeted at adults, not kids, not a child or someone in single digit years. How refreshing and inspiring to realize that there were young minds out there eager to tune in and react to those small, moral tales. There were no car chases; there were no explosions. The purpose of those presentations was to make the viewing audience think, feel and possibly learn. And isn’t that what good drama should do? Isn’t that more substantive than titillating violence?

Which leads me to the next presentation. CRY OF TERROR is a story of terrorism and hostage taking. I’m sure you’re well aware of the subject. We are living in an age when not only are we bombarded daily by headlines in our press, our entertainment programmers relentlessly use the subject as the basis for exciting adventures. Watch how it was done on INSIGHT.

I had worked with Martin Sheen in 1963. It was a small, undemanding role in what I felt was an inferior script. I had seen Martin in an impressive performance on THE DEFENDERS and was surprised when casting director Lynn Stalmaster suggested him. I was told he had recently arrived on the west coast and was eager to work. Since then I had been eager to work with him again, but the combination of finding the right role and his being available had not worked out. He was my first choice for the leading role in CRY OF TERROR, but casting director Jane Murray, with whom I had worked on DR. KILDARE, did not feel, since the story was set in South America, that Martin was Latin enough. I did not know at that time that his real name was Ramon Antonio Gerard Estevez. It would be another week before I got my wish to work with him. Ramon Antonio Gerard would appear in the INSIGHT I would also direct the following week.

The first time I saw Mark Richman was years earlier at the Huntington Hartford Theatre in Hollywood, when he starred in the national company of A HATFUL OF RAIN. CRY OF TERROR was the third time we worked together in film. Four years earlier he guest starred in THE DEATH WIND on THE FBI. Mark had also appeared in the very first INSIGHT that I directed. He was born Marvin Jack Richman. When he entered the theatrical world on the east coast, he became Mark Richman. I think it was soon after this production that for reasons connected to his belief in an Eastern philosophy, he extended his name and became Peter Mark Richman.

Harry Townes was one of the most respected character actors in Hollywood. We had worked together previously on WHEN THE WIND BLOWS, an episode of THE FUGITIVE. It would be about fifteen years before we almost worked together again. In the mid-eighties I was going to direct my first stage production in twenty-three years. It was to be a production of YOU CAN’T TAKE IT WITH YOU for Theatre 40, an acting company based in the Beverly Hills High School. I wanted Harry to play the Grandfather. He of course knew the play and was all set to accept, when he learned he would have to become a member of Theatre 40 to be eligible to be cast. He was willing to do that. The fly in the ointment was the group’s rule that required him to audition to be accepted into the group. He drew the line there, and I really didn’t blame him.

I have been perplexed. When sound was added to the silent film, it created an enormous enhancement of film media’s potential. The addition of dialogue to the visual resulted in some all-time classic literate films, original works with a lot of talk that were written for the screen like ALL ABOUT EVE, SUNSET BOULEVARD, THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES; Broadway plays adapted to the screen like THE LITTLE FOXES, THE LION IN WINTER, THE HEIRESS, INHERIT THE WIND, WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION. When television arrived, it too contributed wordy classics like JUDGMENT AT NUREMBERG, 12 ANGRY MEN, PATTERNS, all of which eventually were translated into theatrical screen productions. That’s not to say there wasn’t room for adventure and action films like John Ford’s filmography of classic westerns, David Lean’s THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI and LAWRENCE OF ARABIA, works that combined exciting action with intelligent dialogue and had something to say. I wonder if any of those scripts had been written today, would they have been filmed.

The journey continues

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3 Responses to Cry Of Terror

  1. Phil says:

    I’m a little confused on the casting…Mark Richman wouldn’t resemble a South American any more than Martin Sheen. Ditto for Andrew Prine and Harry Townes. I have no problem with that…ethnicity is irrelevant to the issues being probed here.

    I recognized Al Checco immediately, but couldn’t pinpoint him to a particular project. After further research, I see he played the stoolie who got killed at the start of your ‘FBI’ episode, “The Raid”.

    From the recycled props department: At 0:50 of the 3rd video, we see a large crate that says BELLS FROM CHINA. The same crate (or an identical one) was used by ‘The Wild Wild West’ two years earlier. In “The Night of the Pelican”, Charles Aidman (subbing for Ross Martin) cut a hole in it and tossed in a set a lit firecrackers to divert the bad guys.

    • Steve Z. says:

      It probably was the same crate. This episode was taped at CBS studio center where the The Wild Wild West was filmed. Most of the crew members on Cry of Terror were employees of the center. At some point during the seventies, the Insight episodes were taped at Metromedia.

  2. detectivetom says:

    Some 44 years later this television episode could still be shown in a high school class and generate a great discussion. Interesting how the voiceover at the end states the Paulist Father serve their God by serving those outside the Catholic Church. Good stuff here and folks new to this series can see how all those years ago I still remember them.

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