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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
Something lost in update, improvement on earlier movie
In the late 1940s, director Maxwell Shane made a very low budget psychological thriller called Fear in the Dark -- about a man waking from a nightmare that he's murdered a stranger, only to find it to be true. In 1956, Shane decided to remake it as Nightmare, with a name cast (Kevin McCarthy -- Mary's brother, for the record -- as the luckless dreamer, Edward G. Robinson as his brother-in-law the homicide cop). It's a very close remake, not as pointlessly literal as Gus Van Sant's cloning of Psycho, but with little changed except a better and more integrated jazz score. In sum, Nightmare boasts better acting and better production values, all of which serve to point up the basic cheesiness of the plot. The earlier version, looking a lot like a nightmare itself, lends its own low-rent integrity to Cornell Woolrich's bizarre vision.
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