Gregory Peck in Night People (1954)


(director/writer: Nunnally Johnson; screenwriters: story by Jed Harris &Tom Reed; cinematographer: Charles G. Clarke; editor: Dorothy Spencer; music: Cyril Mockridge; cast: Gregory Peck (Col. Steve Van Dyke ), Broderick Crawford (Charles Leatherby), Anita Bjork (‘Hoffy’ Hoffmeier), Rita Gam (Ricky Cates), Walter Abel (Maj. R.A. Foster, MD), Buddy Ebsen (Sgt. Eddie McColloch), Max Showalter (Frederick S. Hobart), Jill Esmond (Frau Schindler), Ted Avery (Cpl. John Leatherby), Peter van Eyck (Sergei ‘Petey’ Petrochine); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Nunnally Johnson; Fox; 1954)

It’s a first-rate crafted commercial Cold War espionage tale.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s a first-rate crafted commercial Cold War espionage tale. One that has a tricky plot. It might have been better served if filmed in black and white instead of a gaudy Technicolor. Nunnally Johnson(“The Woman in the Window”/”The Desert Fox”/”The Three faces of Eve”), former Herald Tribune writer, directs, produces and writes the screenplay for a story by Jed Harris &Tom Reed.

Gregory Peck is an American colonel in postwar Berlin on a government mission to bring back a U.S. corporal (Ted Avery) kidnapped by the Russian Communists. Things get tangled when the G.I.’s well-connected industrial magnate father, Broderick Crawford, demands his son’s release at any cost. The Russians demand in exchange that the Americans turn over an elderly German couple to the East Germans, who were anti-Nazi activists involved in the failed plot to assassinate Hitler. Things get further complicated when Peck learns one of his aides, Anita Bjork, is working with the Soviets.

The spy drama intriguingly mixes current Cold War scares with past Nazi ones.

Things look authentic since it’s filmed in bombed-out Berlin.

The lively thriller excites with its cloak-and-dagger plot twists and the menacing tone it sets during a tense time in world affairs.