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Night Must Fall
     

Night Must Fall

5.0 1
Director: Richard Thorpe

Cast: Robert Montgomery, Rosalind Russell, Dame May Whitty

 
Emlyn Williams' theatrical horror piece Night Must Fall was filmed by MGM without the usual studio-imposed happy ending. Robert Montgomery stars as Danny, a wickedly charming Irish bellhop who wins the confidence of an elderly invalid (Dame May Whitty). The old woman's niece (Rosalind Russell) is not so easily swayed by Danny's blarney, but she finds him

Overview

Emlyn Williams' theatrical horror piece Night Must Fall was filmed by MGM without the usual studio-imposed happy ending. Robert Montgomery stars as Danny, a wickedly charming Irish bellhop who wins the confidence of an elderly invalid (Dame May Whitty). The old woman's niece (Rosalind Russell) is not so easily swayed by Danny's blarney, but she finds him strangely attractive, especially when he exhibits a streak of viciousness. Even when the possibility arises that Danny is a wanted murderer, Rosalind is hesitant to call the police. The film's final scene, in which Danny ambles around the house carrying a hatbox that may or may not contain Ms. Whitty's head, is unforgettable. Robert Montgomery fought long and hard with MGM for the right to play the murderous Danny; the studio heads finally gave in, hoping that the actor would fall on his face and cease to bother him. That Night Must Fall was a success is evidenced by the willingness of MGM to remake the property in 1964; the resultant film was a gore-encrusted opus that had not one tenth of the original's quality.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
A tremendously effective screen translation of Emlyn Williams' psychological frightfest, Night Must Fall is a classic nail-biter that, despite the passage of time, is still enormously effective. Primary credit is due to Robert Montgomery, who sheds his "light comedy" image with a finely crafted, carefully nuanced performance that grows more impressive with repeated viewings. That Montgomery can provide Danny with charm is no surprise; that he can do so in a manner that is simultaneously convincing to Dame May Whitty and contrived to Rosalind Russell is unexpectedly delightful. His understanding of the character's psychosis is impressive, and many of his choices -- the subtle changes in Danny's gait and stance, for example -- demonstrate the amount of care he put into this portrayal. Russell's part does not allow her the same range, but her work is polished. She makes the character's repulsion and attraction to Danny credible, which is crucial to the film's success, and her restlessness and discontent are pitched to exactly the right key. Whitty, of course, has a grand time; she and Montgomery are so believable that plot contrivances that might otherwise provoke grunts of disbelief are accepted without batting an eye. Credit director Richard Thorpe with guiding the cast through some difficult terrain; much of the screenplay requires finely tuned reactions and scrupulous attention to subtext to avoid seeming obvious, and Thorpe's careful handling sees that the tone of the scenes never strays into that pit.

Product Details

Release Date:
12/14/2010
UPC:
0883316280348
Original Release:
1937
Rating:
NR
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[B&W, Full Frame]
Time:
1:57:00
Sales rank:
4,571

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Montgomery Danny
Rosalind Russell Olivia Grayne
May Whitty Mrs. Bramson
Alan Marshal Justin
Merle Tottenham Dora
Matthew Boulton Belsize
E.E. Clive Guide
Winifred Harris Mrs. Laurie
Kathleen Harrison Mrs. Terrence
Eily Malyon Nurse
Beryl Mercer Saleslady

Technical Credits
Richard Thorpe Director
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Ray June Cinematographer
Dolly Tree Costumes/Costume Designer
Edward Ward Score Composer
John Van Druten Screenwriter
Robert J. Kern Editor
Hunt Stromberg Producer

Customer Reviews

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Night Must Fall 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I saw the original version in 1937 and still remember it as one of the most thrilling movies I have ever seen. I never spoiled my mental images by watching the later version. Montgomery was the perfect bus boy, masking his villainy with cheerful, endearing helpfulness.