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The Long Night (1947)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 28 May 1947 (USA)
Police surround the apartment of apparent murderer Joe Adams, who refuses to surrender although escape appears impossible. During the siege, Joe reflects on the circumstances that led him to this situation.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Jo Ann
...
Maximilian the Great
...
Charlene
...
Sheriff Ned Meade
...
Chief of Police Bob McManus
...
Frank Dunlap
Queenie Smith ...
Mrs. Tully
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Bill Pulanski
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Policeman Stevens
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Peggy
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Freddie (as Robert A. Davis)
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Storyline

The credits fade onto a blind man tapping his way down the sidewalk,he enters a dingy boarding house and hears a shot fired in one of the upstairs bedrooms. A door opens from audience POV. A man tumbles out of the door and falls, slides and slithers down two flights of stairs and is dead when he hits the bottom. Then follows nearly 100 minutes of flashback and flashbacks-within-flashbacks about a veteran returing from the war, tired and disillusioned, only to find that he girl he loves has lied to him about her relationship with another man, and that man is sadistic, boastful and tauntful. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

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Barbara Bel Geddes IN HER SCREEN DEBUT See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

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Details

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Release Date:

28 May 1947 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Time to Kill  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Film debut of Barbara Bel Geddes. See more »

Quotes

Maximilian: [to Jo-Ann] You have sharp nails like a little animal. Maybe that's what I like about you.
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Connections

References Badman's Territory (1946) See more »

Soundtracks

Violin Concerto
(uncredited)
Music by Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy
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User Reviews

 
A moral melodrama, tight, fast, gorgeous--and offbeat but defining film noir
16 May 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The Long Night (1947)

This Anatole Litvak movie is about four things: Henry Fonda, Sol Polito, and Le Jour se Leve.

1) Fonda is a nice surprise here. He's got those sad, brooding, innocent expressions that make you hang in there for him alongside the young Barbara Bel Geddes, who is both demure and a screaming desperado in her support role. Fonda also has time of downright cheerfulness, and when you see him being lively and chipper you realize how often he is cast as a solid, sober, dignified type (from The Grapes of Wrath to 12 Angry Men, on and on).

2) Polito is the cinematographer, and a great one (see any of his films for proof). He moves the camera up and down that stairwell, around the darkened room, through the crowded streets, on and on, really making the experience visceral and lyrical. It's no small feat. Watch.

3) Le Jour se Leve is the 1939 French movie that is the basis for The Long Night. The writing for this Litvak version is really sharp (and a couple times, hilarious in the best way), and they make the most of the original idea, of a man thinking over his crime and the causes for it.

Which bring up number four, the essence of film noir. We often think of "film noir" as a style, and this one has lots of night shooting and deep shadows. It's also sometimes a period, which is mostly post World War II (so late 1940s into the 1950s). One of the key elements to classic noir is the idea of a man alone, out of step with the world, often vulnerable to a woman (or two) who may or may not have such good intentions. And this man represents the returning soldier, who in reality was out of step with the new booming America.

4) So here we have a textbook example, a soldier who was forced to do his murderous job during the war and now faces an America that he can't quite fit into. The struggle is all on the surface here (even the crowds make clear they are ready to support him through his adjustment), and even though there are no classic noir lines from some detective hardboiler, and even though Fonda is no Mitchum or Bogart, this is a perfect noir in other ways, and more about inner human struggles than external drama.

Is it good? Yes, for all these reasons. It's not flawless (Vincent Price is an odd presence, but if you like Price you'll enjoy him, too), but it has its flawless aspects, and is guaranteed to move you. For many men in a 1947 audience, it had to have been gutwrenching and inspiring. And it still is.


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The billboard. Hup234!
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