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A musician has a nightmare in which he killed a man. When he wakes up he finds evidence that the crime really took place and tries to find the truth with the help of his brother-in-law who is a police officer. Written by
Maxwell Shane remakes his own 1947 film Fear in the Night but with a better known cast and more money. Adapted from Cornell Woolrich's novel, story has Stan Grayson (Kevin McCarthy) as a New Orleans clarinetist who dreams he has committed a murder in a heavily mirrored room. Upon waking he finds clues that suggest he actually may have killed a man and frantically turns to his police detective brother-in-law, Rene Bressard (Edward G. Robinson), for help. But it doesn't look good for Stan...
Fear in the Night is a good film, and so is this, but if you have seen the earlier version then this feels very much perfunctory. The opening titles are superb, as melted candle wax plays host to the roll call shown in moody dissolves. We jump into Grayson's dream, again this is very well constructed on noirish terms, and from there on in it's a competently crafted visual film noir picture with good tension and splendid jazzy interludes.
However, nothing else makes it stand out, it just sort of exists as an exercise in late noir cycle film making, a pic that doesn't want to even try to push boundaries. The cast are dependable in performances, but nothing to really grab the attention, though Shane does work near wonders to cloak the characters in various levels of paranoia or suspicious machinations. New Orleans locales are a bonus, with cinematographer Joseph Biroc excelling at sweaty close-ups and the utilisation of shadows as foreboding presence's.
It all resolves itself in a haze of improbability, but as most film noir fans will tell you, that's actually OK. Yet this is still a film that's far from essential viewing for the like minded noir crowd. More so if you happened to have seen the 1947 version first. 6/10
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