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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
******SPOILERS****** Unbelievably heavy handed movie that telegraphs it's story to the audience so directly that you think it's a commercial for Western Union. Musician Stan Grayson, Kevin McCarthy, walks around most of the time in a zombie-like induced state and when he's conscious with his eyes bulging out of his head and looking like he's going into cardiac arrest at any moment that you want to run to the nearest phone and call 911 for help.
Waking up one morning at his room at the Hotel New Orleans from a nightmare that he had about him being a hall of mirrors and getting into a fight where he kills someone in self-defense Stan then opens a door and falls into a dark and bottomless pit. Stan looks in the mirror and sees marks on his throat and blood on his arm as well as having both a key and a button from the man's suit that was in his dream.
The movie tries to be both hip and cool when it comes to Stan's mental state and how it was manipulated by the killer Dr. Belknap/Harry Britten, Gage Clarke, in a pseudo/psychological manner that was very common in films about mental issues back in the 1940's and 50's but seeing it now it comes across as both silly and amateurish.
The movie also tries to make a big deal about the killer being a doctor who is an expert in psychological studies just by judging from the books that he has in his private library, but at the same time make him physically violent. He runs over his wife with a car and shoots it out with the police in order to kill him off at the end of the movie.
Edward G.Robinson, Det. Rene Bressard, is very good in the movie as Stan's brother in-law and New Orleans police detective. Rene at first suspects Stan of the murders but then, like a good detective should, when he sees where the evidence leads him realizes that there is more to the murders then what he at first thought.
Kevin McCarthy seems to overact in the movie, or better yet was over-directed, by passing out about a half dozen times and coming across as being brain-dead even when he wasn't under hypnosis. The movie tells the audience that you can't do anything under hypnosis that you won't do when your conscious like murder at the same time we see Stan being told to drown himself in the swamp by Dr. Belknap and then willingly do it.
Granted Stan tried to kill himself earlier in the film by jumping from the fifteen floor of the Hotel New Orleans but that was when he thought that he was a murderer. By the time he was told to drown himself he already knew that he didn't commit any murders so there was no conscious or subconscious reasons for him to do it. Stan was eventually saved from drowning by his brother in-law Rene.
Virginia Christine, Sue Bressard, was very good as Stan's sister and Rene's pregnant wife who developed a hearty appetite because of the condition that she was in and Gage Clarke, Dr. Belknap/ Harry Britten, was effective as the highly educated murderer. Connie Russell, Gina, as Stan's love interest had really nothing to do in the movie but stand around and look pretty, she did sing two songs.
The movie "Nightmare" can be forgiven for it's heavy handedness since it was the norm in movies about psychiatric issues back in those days, 1955, but at the same time can't be taken seriously by anyone watching it now in 2004.
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