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Night Must Fall (1937). Robert Montgomery's best performance.


slaytonf
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Though he was popular for his roles as a sophisticate in the upper reaches of society, and though he had some previous and later dramatic roles, Robert Montgomery's best serious outing was in tonight's feature where he plays a psychopathic killer/con man, taking advantage of an old lady's vanities to hide out in her house.  He radiates both a winning charm and chilling menace, interlaced with a curious innocence and high sense of self-worth.  A true egotistical monster.  Great fun.

Tonight, 9:30 PM, Pacific Time.

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21 minutes ago, Hibi said:

I recorded it to watch at another time. I've seen it many times, but still enjoy it.

IT'S REALLY a really WATCHABLE film, although it's just a ittle too long and I have issues with ROSALIND RUSSELL'S character and characterization. DAME MAY WHITTY deserves a lot of credit for that.

i wish they had gone all-out for the ending somehow. it always feels a bit anticlimactic.

260px-Night-Must-Fall-1937-1.jpg

 

spoiler

in a way, one could say NIGHT MUST FALL bucks the Production code, because I could make a good case that RUSSELL'S CHARACTER is clearly guilty of outright aiding and abetting MONTGOMERY. I mean, I'm not saying I blame her, THE OLD LADY is such a HATEFUL OLD BINT I'd've left her alone with the HATBOX KILLER too.

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I think they were hampered somewhat by the code in what they could show. The film comes off as a filmed stage play, but the tension and sense of foreboding keep the film from being boring. Yes, it is a little too long, I think.

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Has anyone seen the remake with Albert Finney? I remember watching it when it aired on one of the networks many years ago, but have forgotten most of the details. Despite being an MGM film its very rarely shown on TCM. I'd like to watch it again.

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23 hours ago, LornaHansonForbes said:

IT'S REALLY a really WATCHABLE film, although it's just a ittle too long and I have issues with ROSALIND RUSSELL'S character and characterization. DAME MAY WHITTY deserves a lot of credit for that.

i wish they had gone all-out for the ending somehow. it always feels a bit anticlimactic.

260px-Night-Must-Fall-1937-1.jpg

 

spoiler

in a way, one could say NIGHT MUST FALL bucks the Production code, because I could make a good case that RUSSELL'S CHARACTER is clearly guilty of outright aiding and abetting MONTGOMERY. I mean, I'm not saying I blame her, THE OLD LADY is such a HATEFUL OLD BINT I'd've left her alone with the HATBOX KILLER too.

 

Yeah, I shed no tears over Whitty's biddy's fate.....

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Whitty is no worse than most mother-in-laws. The real psychopathic fiend is Russel's character. She not only saves the murderer's bacon when the cops get too close, she makes sure the coast is clear for Whitty's pillow party.

 

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I like the movie more as an off kilter English drawing room play than as a psycho murder story.

I could see parts of it being a Monty Python sketch. Anyone who carries around a head in a

hatbox is either as crazy as a loon or as stupid as one. Montgomery certainly has a few screws

loose, but he doesn't strike me as a total dope. So I can't go with the program, no matter how

charming he is. Sure, Dame May Whitty is a real stinker, but I can't really dislike anyone who

has such a love of chocolate bon bons. I felt sorry for Dora. Now she'll have to go out and find

a new, hopefully not murderous, gentleman caller. 

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On 4/19/2021 at 8:38 AM, Hibi said:

I think they were hampered somewhat by the code in what they could show. The film comes off as a filmed stage play, but the tension and sense of foreboding keep the film from being boring. Yes, it is a little too long, I think.

The biggest drawback of the movie is the murder scene.  That is, the end of the murder scene.  After a brilliant squirm-inducing build-up, the climax (pardon) of the sexual and oedipal themes, all we get is a generic shot of a cringing Dame May.  Lame.  No doubt the censors would not allow showing the murder, but you would have thought Richard Thorpe, a cut above your average production line director, and his team would have come up with something more in the flow of the rest of the movie.  Maybe they were just relying on the merits of the play.  All the more reason to be grateful for Mr. Montgomery's performance.  Without it, this movie would be entirely forgettable.

This notwithstanding Dame May's performance.  You can get your fill of curmudgeonly old crones in other movies, but rarely do you get to see such an entertainingly wicked protagonist.  Not on the same level as Richard III, but in the same line.

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8 hours ago, slaytonf said:

The biggest drawback of the movie is the murder scene.  That is, the end of the murder scene.  After a brilliant squirm-inducing build-up, the climax (pardon) of the sexual and oedipal themes, all we get is a generic shot of a cringing Dame May.  Lame.  No doubt the censors would not allow showing the murder,

I rewatched most of it this morning and THOUGHT THE EXACT SAME THING.

I think my favorite thing about NIGHT MUST FALL is the marvelous interior/exterior MGM SET for the (Lake Country?) cottage; they used some really great EXTERIOR SHOTS and blended them with what I presume was the studio soundstage drawing-room set; it "opens up" the stagebound story nicely.

sadly, i could not find a lot of images of the exteriors, but here is what i could

(they also use a really impressive miniature of the cottage and grounds in the big TRANSITION into the THIRD act scene)

See the source image

8a9877e7ffffe590989ad68e4eb8de79--dvd-ac

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9 hours ago, slaytonf said:

The biggest drawback of the movie is the murder scene.  That is, the end of the murder scene.  After a brilliant squirm-inducing build-up, the climax (pardon) of the sexual and oedipal themes, all we get is a generic shot of a cringing Dame May.  Lame.  No doubt the censors would not allow showing the murder, but you would have thought Richard Thorpe, a cut above your average production line director, and his team would have come up with something more in the flow of the rest of the movie.  Maybe they were just relying on the merits of the play.  All the more reason to be grateful for Mr. Montgomery's performance.  Without it, this movie would be entirely forgettable.

This notwithstanding Dame May's performance.  You can get your fill of curmudgeonly old crones in other movies, but rarely do you get to see such an entertainingly wicked protagonist.  Not on the same level as Richard III, but in the same line.

Possibly there was more to the scene and it was cut. Yeah, I wanted to see the old Biddy get her just desserts! Has anyone seen the Finney remake in the early 60s? Wish TCM would show it or show them as a double feature.

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24 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Possibly there was more to the scene and it was cut. Yeah, I wanted to see the old Biddy get her just desserts! Has anyone seen the Finney remake in the early 60s? Wish TCM would show it or show them as a double feature.

i wanna say TCM showed it not too long ago (the remake.)

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