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Night Must Fall (1937)

Passed  |   |  Drama, Mystery, Thriller  |  30 April 1937 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 1,395 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 10 critic

When a rich but cantankerous dowager on an isolated estates hires an engaging handyman, her niece/companion becomes suspicious of his motives.



(from the stage success of), (screen play)
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Title: Night Must Fall (1937)

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Merle Tottenham ...
Kathleen Harrison ...
Eily Malyon ...
Matthew Boulton ...
Beryl Mercer ...
Alan Marshal ...
Winifred Harris ...
Mrs. Laurie
E.E. Clive ...


Crotchety old Mrs. Bransom hires a charming young man named Danny as a live-in companion. Less charmed by Danny is Mrs. Bransom's niece, Olivia, a repressed young woman who suspects Danny of foul play. When news of a local murder is revealed, Olivia suspects Danny. Although repulsed by the thought he may have committed the crime, Olivia also finds herself becoming increasingly attracted to him at the same time. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 April 1937 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Al caer la noche  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


"Night Must Fall" was first presented in London at the Duchess Theatre on 31 May 1935, and featured Emlyn Williams as Dan; Dame May Whitty as Mrs. Bramson; Angela Baddeley as Olivia Grayne; Kathleen Harrison as Mrs. Terence; Basil Radford as Hubert Laurie; and 'Matthew Boulton' as Inspector Belsize. The play was produced by Miles Malleson, and directed by Williams. Angela Baddeley, Matthew Boulton, May Whitty, and Emlyn Williams would reprise their roles in the 1936 Broadway production. See more »


In Mrs. Bramson's bedroom, Danny tucks in Mrs. Bramson and leaves, closing the bedroom door with an audible click. The next scene shows Danny outside the bedroom again closing the still-open door. See more »


Olivia Grayne: I'm not a snob, but in case you'd like to call here again, I'd like to point out that although I'm employed by my aunt, I'm not in Dora's position.
Danny: Well, I hope not. I am gonna marry her though, and I...
Olivia Grayne: I don't believe you.
Danny: You don't believe me, do you?
Olivia Grayne: Your eyes are set quite wide apart... and your hands are quite good, but I really don't know what's wrong with you.
Danny: Like me, do you?
Olivia Grayne: No!
Danny: Everybody else does.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The main title reads "The astonishing London and New York stage success 'Night Must Fall' ". See more »


Version of Hour of Mystery: Night Must Fall (1957) See more »


Rock-a-Bye Baby
(1886) (uncredited)
Written by Effie I. Canning
Sung a cappella by Robert Montgomery
See more »

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User Reviews

Classic mystery thriller is a bit creaky, but still worthwhile
11 January 2005 | by (Cincinnati, OH) – See all my reviews

Emlyn Williams suspenseful stage play is given a strong treatment in this atmospheric film. Russell plays the penniless and somewhat dowdy niece of crotchety, cranky Witty, a wealthy, feisty old woman confined to a wheelchair (possibly by her own hypochondria!) When one of the maids of the house is made pregnant, Witty interviews the guilty party (Montgomery) in order to scold him and pressure him into marrying the wayward girl, but instead is charmed to the point of hiring him on as an assistant and care-giver to herself. Russell watches in disbelief and disgust as this snake weasels his way into the heart of the otherwise cantankerous Witty and eventually begins to believe that his cheerful demeanor is a cover for a much darker side. The fact that a beheaded woman's body was found nearby and that he keeps a hat box that is "much too heavy for a hat" only adds to her fears and suspicions, yet she is strangely drawn to him, falling under his spell herself, with only occasional breaks back into cold reality. Russell and Montgomery play a game of mental tennis with Witty as the ball until the situation reaches a fever pitch. Russell does well in a mostly understated portrayal. Her versatility is evident as only two years later she would soar overboard in the classic "The Women". Sometimes, her character's motivations are fuzzy, but she does an able job of standing up to and being drawn to Montgomery. Montgomery is excellent. His innate pleasantness and sunny face mask a truly troubled persona that only comes to the surface occasionally. His interplay with both women, but primarily Witty, is a highlight of the film. Incidentally, in certain scenes and in some long shots, he resembles Jude Law (even on the video cover.) Witty is magnificent in her role as the bitter, lonely old woman whose ice is melted by the new surrogate son in her life. Alternately snippy and delighted, she and Montgomery have great chemistry and are a memorable screen duo. The remainder of the cast is solid and helpful to the ambiance with the possible exception of Russell's rather gooey love interest Marshal (though there isn't much he could have done with that part.) Definitely showing its age and its stage roots, (and clocking in a bit too lengthily) the film is nonetheless entertaining and intriguing for the most part. Interestingly, Montgomery's career as a leading man was not affected by this dark role, yet a couple of years later Cary Grant was prevented from playing one that was far less deranged in "Suspicion" (thus rendering that film's storyline somewhat ridiculous.) Montgomery even scored an Oscar nomination. It's interesting to wonder whether Grant could have gotten one if his character weren't toyed with and how his career path may have changed if he had played the darker aspects (but he could hardly complain about his film success!)

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Impressed with the film, but would have made changes in script SusanJL
Danny'saccent sticks114
Re-make twfaircroft
Will air on TCM on 9/2/2012 michaelhelwick
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What was Olivia's intent in this film - nutritionist
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