NIGHT UNTO NIGHT
(director: Don Siegel; screenwriters: based on a novel by Philip Wylie/Kathryn Scola; cinematographer: Peverell Marley; editor: Thomas Reilly; music: Franz Waxman; cast: Ronald Reagan (John Galen), Viveca Lindfors (Ann Gracy), Broderick Crawford (C.L. Shawn), Rosemary DeCamp (Thalia Shawn), Osa Massen (Lisa), Art Baker (Dr. Poole), Craig Stevens (Tony), Lillian Yarbo(Josephine, The Maid), Erskine Sanford(Dr. Altheim), Ann Burr (Willa Shawn), Johnny McGovern (Willie Shawn), Dick Elliott (Auto Court Manager); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Owen Crump; Warner Bros.; 1949)
“This is the kind of downer romantic drama that can depress you and should come with a warning label to that effect.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Moody romantic drama that’s heavy going and pretentious, as it tackles epilepsy and the problems of a mentally disturbed widow who believes she’s talking to her dead hubby ghost. Director Don Siegel (“The Big Steal”/”The Verdict”/”Madigan”), who never believed in the project but was forced to do it because of his studio contract, tries to keep things from being too unbearable, but is handed such a lame script by Kathryn Scola that his efforts were moot. It’s based on the novel by Philip Wylie.
It was filmed in 1947 by Warner Bros., but the studio shelved it for two years in the hopes that Swedish actress Viveca Lindfors would become the next Ingrid Bergman. But in the subsequent two years she made two more films, To The Victor (1948) and Adventures of Don Juan (1948), with similar weak performances and the studio never renewed her contract. In 1949 Viveca married Siegel and they remained married until 1953.
Brilliant young single bio-chemist John Galen (Ronald Reagan) leaves Chicago when diagnosed with epilepsy for the seclusion of the Everglades on Florida’s East Coast. Wanting to be alone, John rents from an hallucinating widow Ann Gracy (Viveca Lindfors) a secluded mausoleum type of Victorian mansion and falls in love with his batty landlady. Ann rents the house to him and lives instead in a bungalow cottage nearby, because whenever in the family house she’s confronted by the ghost of her deceased hubby.
Evidently nothing could cure such a nutty and cheerless story, but Reagan isn’t bad and neither is Broderick Crawford as a normal art illustrator family man neighbor of John. Besides dishing out inaccurate info on the mystery disease of epilepsy, which I attribute to the time, the pick serves as a rare film about the disease. Story-wise our Ronnie makes the brilliant deduction that the voice Ann is hearing is caused by her anxiety and fueled by her imagination, and with that the only tension left is if the scientist will be helped by Ann to survive that wicked hurricane that comes in the concluding ten minutes.
This is the kind of downer romantic drama that can depress you and should come with a warning label to that effect.
REVIEWED ON 4/15/2013 GRADE: C