Night Must Fall

Amazing! Different! Unique!

Mystery Thriller Romance
116 min     7.2     1937     USA


Wealthy widow Mrs. Bramson notices that her maid is distracted, and when she learns the girl's fiancé, Danny, is the reason, she summons him in. Mrs. Bramson's niece Olivia takes a liking to Danny, and comes to believe that he may have been involved in the disappearance of a local woman.


John Chard wrote:
You'll be the death of me. You really will. Night Must Fall is directed by Richard Thorpe and adapted to screenplay John Van Druten from the Emlyn Williams play. It stars May Whitty, Robert Montgomery, Rosalind Russell, Merle Tottenham, Alan Marshal, Matthew Boulton and Kathleen Harrison. Music is by Edward Ward and cinematography by Ray June. When the rich but cantankerous dowager Mrs. Branson (Whitty) hires engaging but mysterious handyman Danny (Montgomery), her niece/companion Olivia (Russell) becomes suspicious of his motives. Emlyn Williams play (he played the role of Danny himself on the stage) is brought to the screen with splendid unnerving rewards, the end result being a genuine thriller, the kind that seems all the more better for being filmed in classic era monochrome. With the tone set from the off, where we know there is a murderer at large, director Thorpe takes great care to ensure characterisations of the principles are firmly given room to breath. He has to do this since the film runs at just shy of two hours in length, but never once does the film or story sag. This is because of in the main the performance of Montgomery. With MGM suits worried about Montgomery being cast in the male lead, since he was after all at the time cast against frothy type, producer Hunt Stromberg got his way and was duly rewarded when the pic became a critical and popular audience hit. Montgomery (Oscar Nominated Best Actor) is terrific, his portrayal of Danny is a blend of childlike shenanigans and sinister undertones - crowned by a nerve tingling last thirty minutes of the piece. Montgomery is well backed by the Great Dame Whitty (Oscar Nominated Best Supporting Actress) and Russell, the former delightfully gruff but melts under Danny's charm, the latter deeply conflicted on an emotional level as things start to twist and turn in the plot. This is highly recommended to any classic film fan who has a bent for those Gaslight type thrillers where a woman may be under threat and the protagonist may just be too good to be true... 8/10