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"The Night has a Thousand Eyes" is a most engaging drama, with Edward G.
Robinson giving his all to the role of a clairvoyant. A wonderful Robinson
performance. Gail Russell is seen in one of her best film appearances.
John Lund is well cast as Russell's doubting but supportive love
The atmosphere created here has an almost hypnotic effect. Robinson is completely into his role and totally convincing.
That this film has not yet to date made it on video is incredible. Of all the lesser films that did so, this movie warrants attention. Paramount Pictures [us]--please take note.
Cornell Woolrich is best recalled (in movies) for the film version of
one of his best tales, REAR WINDOW. However other stories of his,
written under his real name or as "William Irish", became film. THE
LEOPARD MAN, one of the first of Val Lewton's B-feature productions,
was based on one of his stories. So is THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES.
Edward G. Robinson is a clairvoyant who worked with Jerome Cowan in a mentalist act. Only one problem - Robinson discovers he actually can predict the future. Unfortunately, in Woolrich's realistic view of the seen and unseen world, having a psychic power is not necessarily good. Robinson can foresee good things (he forsees that Cowan's buying into a potential oil field operation will make millions), but he also sees tragedy frequently. The woman he loves (the third person in the act) wants to marry him, but he suddenly refuses - he sees problems about her pregnancy. She marries Cowan - and dies giving birth to the daughter who becomes Gail Russell. Robinson soon discovers he cannot stop tragedy. When he warns a newsboy to be careful going home, he tries to reassure the boy by giving him a large tip. The boy starts running home, and gets hit (and presumably killed) by a car.
Robinson has contacted Cowan to warn him that he should not go flying. Cowan's plane crashes and he is killed. Robinson than contacts Russell to try to help her. Her boyfriend John Lund, at first, rejects Robinson's warnings, but as they uncannily come true becomes increasingly convinced that Robinson not a faker. But Detective William Demerest (in a curious mixed role, half serious and half comic) is not sure - it seems somebody tampered with the wiring of Cowan's plane.
So the movie progresses - is Robinson legitimately psychic, and trying to help Russell, or is he the evil genius in some plan to get control of the fortune. And as Cowan was in the middle of a major oil merger when he died, many others are interested in knowing the truth...or hiding it.
This film, for some reason, always gets mediocre reviews in the New York Times movie reviews. Actually it's quite compelling, and far more inviting a story about sixth sense powers than many more important, and expensive productions. I feel that it is close to Robinson's most sympathetic role, and the conclusion of the film certainly makes it almost Shakespearean in it's tragic denouement.
According to "The Films of Edward G. Robinson", this entry in the 2008 Film Noir Series at the Egyptian on April 18, was pretty much dismissed by critics and the star itself. After all, this came right after his masterful performance in John Huston's "Key Largo", for which he teamed up with Humphrey Bogart for the last time. This film barely shows up in Gail Russell's bio, who's probably best known as John Wayne's co-star in "Angel and the Badman", the first time he utters "pilgrim", as that was what she played. However, "Night" did generally get a positive response with modern audiences. Director John Farrow, father of Mia, provided a good atmosphere and generally kept the narrative at the good pace. It begins with John Lund, the third name above the title, saving Russell from suicide. From there, they meet Robinson at a restaurant and who has already ordered exactly what they want. Then, he tells in flashback that he actually knew her parents quite well. As played by Virginia Bruce and Jerome Cowan, hey manage his clairvoyant act in which he actually gets glimpses of the future. In fact, he actually quits when an unfortunate event happens that I won't give away. Where he retires to is of special notice to old time Angeleno fans. He's seen going to his Bunker Hill residence from taking Angel's Flight. It is from there he brings the audience back to the present. Of special interest among the cast is William Demarest, who appeared in just about every Preston Sturges comedy during this time period. Playing straight, he's nevertheless is quite comical as the dumb police detective. The ending is actually quite well written. It has an intriguing twist and some of the best prose Robinson's voice was ever given to speak. A great film noir.
I saw this on New York television as an impressionable thirteen year old in the early sixties. It's been on my top ten list of favorites ever since. Not only the expected intelligent, riveting performance from Robinson, but a touching, foreboding one from the luminous and tragic Gail Russell. This is my favorite Russell performance, followed by The Uninvited and Moonrise. What a waste that her life and talent was snuffed out at 36!
A jewel in the rough. A small little movie with a great Edward G. Robinson. The loneliness of Triton is played with a big intensity by him. Story, actors and shooting of the film is both, film noir and drama of loneliness and being lost, quite as it is Woolrich's credo in a lot of his novels and screen adaptations. This is one of its best. Eight points.
I've seen this film only once & loved it! It shows just how versitile of
actor Robinson really was.
It tells the story of a man who discovers he really has the ability to see into the future. He becomes a recluse out of the fear that his predictions always come true. That same fear brings him out of reclusion when he seeks out the daughter of a woman he once loved to warn her of impending danger.
The only thing I dislike about this film? It never made it to video. For anyone that would like to see this film's plot, I recommend "The Clarivoyant" with Claude Rains.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
William Irish aka George Hopley aka Cornell Woolrich (the latter
appearing in the cast and credits,his real name) loved the subject so
much that not only he wrote a short story but he also wrote a whole
novel ,with the same characters .People complained that John Farrow
sacrificed psychology to the plot.But it was not Woolrich's forte.His
characters elude him,they are puppets ,not in his hands ,but in the
hands of fate .This is his most revealing book:he did believe in the
power of the stars (one of his short stories,one of his most desperate
was called "no moon ,no stars"),he did believe that man's destiny is
written before he lives and that he can't change it;the users who know
about his miserable life remember that he spent his whole existence in
a hotel room;he was gay but the only love he got was from his mother;he
ended his life a disabled man ,diabetes leading to gangrene .
John Farrow modified the book ,but he remained faithful to Woolrich's spirit;in the novel,it's the father of the girl who has got to die in a lion's jaws .Read it,even if you watched the movie,cause Woolrich's sense of tragedy has no equal in the Roman Noir.Only the ending is a bit embarrassing ,being somewhat contrived and adding a wrong track which weakened the intense emotion :too bad they did not keep the final lines between the girl and her friend.
The opening scene on the railroad track can rival with the best films Noirs of the forties/early fifties,like those of Robert Siodmak (who took Woolrich's "phantom lady" to the screen) and Mitchell Leisen (whose "no man of her own" is a thousand times better than the pitiful FRench attempt called "J'Ai Epousé Une Ombre" ).Gail Russel,a relatively obscure actress has wonderful eyes which the director films in the scene in the car as bright as two stars in the night.
The-man-who-can-predict-future was a secondary character in the book ,but Edward G.Robinson made it a winner;he added a guilt feeling ,which overwhelmed him and his performance was extraordinary all along the way;this part was tailor -made for him:remember Lang's "woman in the window" ,Duvivier' s "flesh and fantasy" or Siodmak's "the strange affair of Uncle Harry",all tormented characters who have perhaps done nothing and who are feeling guilt.
A lot of bizarre details (the cushion,the gun which doesn't shoot,the flower under the shoe,the little boy on the street ,the strange music hall -a scene not unlike the contemporary adventure of Tintin:"Les Sept Boules DE Cristal") create a heavy atmosphere devoid of any providence.
This picture clearly is a classic noir picture. It is deadly serious, almost depressing. The Edward G. Robinson character is well-defined. His sadness and guilt over his "gift" is quite convincing. He is a man torn by his ability to foresee tragic events. His face is often contorted and Robinson's craggy face further emphasizes his angst. His raspy voice further emphasizes his sadness. The role is a tour de force for Robinson (who often portrays this type of internally focused, incredibly gnarled individuals). The role reminds me a bit of his portrayal of Barton Keyes in Double Indemnity - the little man who agonizes over the death of Dietrichson. Unfortunately, there is no femme fatale. Gail Russell is saccharine sweet, although prettier than in some of her other noir roles.
I saw this movie as a 16 year old, and have only seen it once since, but I found it to be a spooky and suspenseful tale. Edward G. Robinson does his usual superb job of acting, and I liked Gail Russell in it very much.
Night Has a Thousand Eyes is directed by John Farrow and adapted to
screenplay by Barre Lyndon and Jonathan Latimer from the novel of the
same name written by Cornell Woolrich. It stars Edward G. Robinson,
Gail Russell, John Lund, Virginia Bruce, William Demarest, Richard Webb
and Jerome Cowan. Music is scored by Victor Young and cinematography by
John F. Seitz.
John Triton (Robinson) is a nightclub fortune teller who suddenly finds he really does posses psychic ability. As his predictions become more bleaker, Triton struggles with what was once a gift but now is very much a curse.
During a visually sumptuous beginning to the film, a girl is saved from suicide, it's an attention grabbing start and sets the tone for what will follow. Mood and strangulated atmosphere born out by photographic styles, craft of acting and Young's spine tingling score are the keys to the film's success, with the pervading sense of doom ensuring the narrative never falls into mawkish hell. It's a film that shares thematic similarities with a 1934 Claude Rains picture titled The Clairvoyant, only here we enter noir territory for Triton's cursed journey, where as the Rains movie was ultimately leading us to the savage idiocy of mob justice.
Farrow's (The Big Clock/Where Danger Lives) film falls into a small quasi supernatural group of black and whites that are formed around a carnival/psychic act. It's a situation for film that film noir makers sadly didn't explore more often, making the likes of Night Has a Thousand Eyes, Nightmare Alley and The Spiritualist little treasures to be cherished. Farrow gets as much suspense out of the story as he can, of which he is helped enormously by the great work of Robinson. At a time when the HUAC was breathing down his neck, Robinson turns in a definitive portrayal of a man caught in a trap, his fate sealed. His face haunted and haggard, his spoken words sorrowful and hushed, Robinson is simply terrific.
The world of prognostication gets a film noir make-over, death under the stars indeed. 8/10
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