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"The Night Walker" (1964)


LiamCasey

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I did catch The Night Walker last Saturday night. Basically one in a long line of Hollywood movies where the supernatural was simply an elaborate plot staged by one party to get some sort of advantage over another party. An advantage that always appears to be obtainable in some much simpler manner (albeit a manner that nobody would bother using in a movie).

 

But between having Robert Bloch as its screenwriter and having both Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor appear to give their all to their roles (although I believe that their divorce settlement entitled Ms. Stanwyck to 15% of Mr. Taylor's all), this one was an above average entry in that line.

 


And an additional plus in my opinion: A William Castle movie without a distracting gimmick!

 


Thankfully, Ms. Stanwyck's final big screen appearance did not wind up being something like, well, Trog.

 

It was interesting to catch Hayden Rorke in this one. Even though I've seen him portray Dr. Bellows in innumerable episodes of I Dream of Jeannie in my time, I suspect that, if I hadn't caught Mr. Rorke's name in the credits, I would not have recognized him here.

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Didn't care much for the story which came off like a TZ episode badly in need of editing, but I liked the TV look of the production, low budget but clean and some nice black and white tones. I love Barbara but she was past her prime as a female lead. For that matter Taylor looked a little tired, himself. Vic Mizzy scores are always fun and sort of tongue in cheek but he seemed short on motifs here. Maybe because the script itself was limited.

 

But I'm a sven fan and enjoyed seeing it in that venue.

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If you make a movie like The Night Walker and you don't get compared to The Twilight Zone (positively or negatively), you've definitely made a mistake somewhere along the line!

 

:)

 

I disagree (respectively, of course!) with LuckyDan's "past her prime" and "tired" opinions. To me those terms usually come into play when an actor portrays a character whose age is much less than the actor's actual age. And the actor no longer has the looks and/or the energy to pull off that younger age. However I didn't get any impression while watching The Night Walker that either Barbara Stanwyck or Robert Taylor were supposed to be playing younger characters and so I easily accepted their characters as being a 57 year old female and a 53 year old male.

 

One thing about Ms. Stanwyck's performance in The Night Walker that did leave a lot to be desired: her screams. She couldn't scream worth a damn in this.

 

I did find the score problematic in this one because there were some scenes where I felt that the score was a bit too jaunty and a bit too loud for what was being portrayed in those scenes.

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Good points, Liam, about the ages of the two leads. I suppose I could have worded my objection more carefully about Barbara and Robert looking past their prime and tired, respectively. Barbara's character was supposed to be thought of as a straying wife, at least in her husband's jealous eye. Of course she wasn't but I would have chosen a younger leading lady to give some credibility to the idea. As for Taylor, well, I guess I'm just not a big fan of his acting.

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Although I believe that Barbara Stanwyck did a fine job in her role, I agree with you that having a younger actress in this role would have made more sense. And I suspect that the role was originally written with a younger actress in mind. As you noted, the husband's suspicions would be more likely to arise if this was a older husband/younger wife pairing (and how many movies have we all seen over the years that have followed that very convention). And the fact that the wife still owns a beauty shop with an adjoining apartment but is not currently in a position where she is seeing any men other than her husband and his attorney sure gives one the impression that they have not been married long. The big unanswered question? How the heck did they get together in the first place!

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