A teenager comes of age while seeking revenge on the man who beat up his father.



(novel), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Complete credited cast:
George La Main (as John Barrymore Jr.)
Andy La Main
Marion Rostina
Howard St. John ...
Al Judge
Julie Rostina
Philip Bourneuf ...
Dr. Lloyd Cooper
Howland Chamberlain ...
Flanagan (as Howland Chamberlin)
Emile Meyer ...
Peckinpaugh (as Emil Meyer)
Mauri Lynn ...
Terry Angelus


George La Main, just turned 17, suffers growing pains and is anxious to prove his manhood. That night, George's adored father Andy is savagely beaten by sportswriter Al Judge. Traumatized and unable to learn why it happened, George goes gunning for Judge. His mission becomes an odyssey through the town's seamy side, and his coming of age is more of a trial by fire than he bargained for. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


GRIPPING! Under cover of darkness a kid learns about life!





Release Date:

13 November 1951 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Die Nacht der Wahrheit  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


According to interviews that director Joseph Losey gave in the mid-1970s to Michel Ciment, the FBI wanted to spy on him in Europe, where he relocated to work after being blacklisted by Hollywood because of his political activities. So they paid John Drew Barrymore (who became a good friend after this movie) to furnish information about Losey's political activities, if any, in London. Barrymore later met Losey in London and confessed to him about the money and expense account the FBI had given him to spy on Losey. Losey, recalling that the young actor had been under tremendous pressure at the time, forgave him and in fact suggested that they have several lavish meals together and put the cost on Barrymore's FBI expense account, which they promptly did. See more »


George blows out all but one of his birthday candles. When the view changes from over George's shoulder to a position over his father's shoulder, all the candles are out, but when it changes back, the one candle is again lit. See more »


George La Main: I remember the stairs.
Marion Rostina: You ought to. You spent a long time on 'em.
See more »


Am I Too Young
Music by Lyn Murray
Lyrics by Sid Kuller
Sung by Mauri Lynn
See more »

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User Reviews

Too stage bound!
29 August 2008 | by (Hollywood, CA) – See all my reviews

As someone who knew John Barrymore Jr. 25 years ago, I was heartbroken to see him early in his aborted film career. Though not as charismatic as James Dean would be just a couple of years later, he was certainly Dean's prototype in The Big Night. Perhaps with a better film and a less disturbed personality, Barrymore might have been a working Hollywood actor for many years to come. Anyway, what director Joseph Losey lacked here was the Los Angeles cityscape he used to full effect that same year in his retelling of Fritz Lang's M. The Big Night was screaming for a location project on downtown L.A.'s seedy, beaten down Bunker Hill, a neighborhood of crumbling Victorian mansions and apartment buildings with vertiginous stairways that provided so much atmosphere to other films, such as Kiss Me Deadly, Criss-Cross, The Exiles and, yes, M. Instead, the movie is stage bound and hemmed in by sets that never look convincing. With its rambling "a night in the life" plot line, The Big Night needed another character: a dark city of real streets, background lights, rambling old house, and dingy clubs and bars. In other words, the kind of verisimilitude that transports the viewer into the protagonist's world. The back lot, unfortunately, was a poor stand-in.

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