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John M. Stahl
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Post WWII yarn about a young GI abducted by the Soviets in West Berlin and hauled off to the East. His recovery gets complicated as Colonel Steve Van Dyke (Peck) tries to sort out the usefulness of informants, spies, bureaucrats, and the abductee's influential father (Crawford)! Written by
The scenes where Gregory Peck and Buddy Ebsen ride up and down on the "People dumb waiter" were not shot in Berlin, but in Frankfurt. It's located in the old IG Farben building that used to be the 5th Corps Headquarters. See more »
Frederick S. Hobart:
Nothing that ever happens here is isolated. They kidnap a 19 year old boy, your son and we cant tell yet whether its a local needle or another Korea.
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The Cinemascope "extension" music, added by composer Alfred Newman to his "20th Century-Fox Fanfare" especially for films made in Cinemascope, and used in most of them, is not used in this film. See more »
The Cold War was settling in for a deep freeze when Night People was made in 1953. The story is about the kidnapping of an American corporal on occupation duty in Berlin and the efforts by our military to get him back.
Mind you this isn't any ordinary corporal. Turns out he's the son of Broderick Crawford who is doing a light version of his junk tycoon from Born Yesterday. As it is explained in a line which audiences today might not get, 'he plays golf'. That he was a businessman who played golf was meant that he played regularly with the most famous golfer in America. You could not go a week in the USA of the Fifties without reading in the newspapers or hearing on radio or television about President Eisenhower tearing it up at some golf course. No one born after 1956 or so would possibly grasp the meaning of that description.
So Crawford goes to Berlin to get some action and he runs into Gregory Peck of the Provost Marshal's office who does things in his own time and won't be bullied or influenced.
Peck's role calls for him to be soldier, diplomat, and psychologist all in one. But he's a professional and he carries it off despite a few unexpected wrinkles. One of them turns out to be Anita Bjork who has been working both sides of the Cold War in an effort to obtain her much needed absinthe.
Aiding and abetting Peck in his attempt to free the corporal are Rita Gam as his girl Friday, Sgt. Buddy Ebsen, Peck's non-com aide, and army doctor Walter Abel who has to be on standby at the climax of the film. Why is that, you have to watch Night People to find out, but Abel's needed for a potential emergency.
Berlin ever since the airlift was at the center of the Cold War with the Russians. The wall had not been built yet and after that things kind of settled to an uneasy acceptance until the fall of the Soviet Union. Night People is an average Cold War drama made better by the presence of some A list cast members and a tightly edited script by Nunnally Johnson who also directed.
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