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Things start to go wrong for a group of criminals after they kidnap a young heiress and hold her for ransom at a beach house in France. Fighting among the co-conspirators boils over shortly after the ransom is picked up, leading to a violent end for most. Written by
Kevin Steinhauer <K.Steinhauer@BoM.GOV.AU>
Among Marlon Brando's brilliant filmography,"night of the following day" remains one of his most mysterious .I saw the movie twice (it was a continuous programme) when it was theatrically released and since,I have never talked about it with anybody afterward.
Yesterday ,when I finally saw it again after all those years,I realized I totally missed the point the first time:I had not understood the ending.It was a time unexpected twists were not that much common .Of course Fritz Lang's "Woman in the window" had already been made but I hardly knew Lang's name.
But if the ending eluded me ,blame it on the script too.To make sense,the whole story should have been seen through Pamela Franklin's eyes!Her part is underwritten ,she hasn't even got a name.Anyway,Brando's smile on the last picture is really spooky and makes me think of many films of today.
Cornfield's main asset is the perfection of his cast:apart from the two names I mention above,Richard Boone,Jess Hahn and Rita Moreno are first-class actors.Hats off to the latter who manages quite well in French: all the scenes with the cop are suspenseful ("Je vous ai fait peur?"=Did I scare you?)Cornfield's use of France is devoid of the usual clichés:no accordion tune,no Eiffel Tower,and,on the Champ Elysées ,we can't even see the Arc of Triumph.On the other hand,his depiction of the little bistros (French pubs) is accurate and the (Normandy?) beach where most of the action takes place is a good location.The house is wrapped in silence disturbed only by the sea.There's something bizarre which almost explains the eerie ending.
This story of kidnapping has been told and told and told.And however Hubert Cornfield 's movie is unlike all the other ones.Marlon Brando assumes an indifferent air,which increases the strange atmosphere .Towards the ending,everything is happening at once and we sometimes wonder whether the criminals' plans are that much good (in the bistro,they make blunder after another).
French director Robert Hossein certainly appreciated Cornfield's movie since he made "Point de chute" starring singer Johnny Hallyday which bore more than a distant resemblance to "night of...".Like Franklin,the victim has no name either !
Hubert Cornfield infatuation with France took the form of a ...French movie in 1976 "les Grands Moyens" from an Exbrayat's novel which sank without a trace.
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