49 user 21 critic

Fear in the Night (1947)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 16 June 1948 (Mexico)
A man dreams he committed murder, then begins to suspect it was real.


Maxwell Shane


Cornell Woolrich (story "Nightmare") (as William Irish), Maxwell Shane (written for the screen by)




Complete credited cast:
Paul Kelly ... Cliff Herlihy
DeForest Kelley ... Vince Grayson
Ann Doran ... Lil Herlihy
Kay Scott ... Betty Winters
Charles Victor Charles Victor ... Captain Warner
Robert Emmett Keane ... Lewis Belknap, aka Harry Byrd
Jeff York ... Deputy Torrence (as Jeff Yorke)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joey Ray Joey Ray ... Contractor (scenes deleted)
Loyette Thomson Loyette Thomson ... Waitress (scenes deleted)


Bank teller Vince Grayson wakes from a nightmare in which he and an unknown woman murdered a man in a strange, mirrored room. Only a dream...but Vince finds that he has physical objects and bruises from his "dream." His cop brother-in-law dismisses his story...until the family, on a picnic, takes shelter from a thunderstorm in a deserted mansion containing that mirrored room. Is doom closing in on Vince? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


He awoke from a dream...to be BRANDED A MURDERER! (original window card) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Frank Paul Sylos, who did the art direction for "Fear in the Night", also handled the art direction for its remake, "Nightmare" in 1956. See more »


When Vince Grayson is ordered by Belknap to write his suicide note, he misspells Belknap as "Belnap", leaving out the "k". See more »


Vince Grayson: I've got an honest man's conscience... in a murderer's body.
See more »


Featured in Carolina (2003) See more »

User Reviews

Leaves Its Mark
21 June 2015 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

What the movie lacks in believability it makes up for in sheer visual imagination. That opening sequence is a real grabber. Just what the heck is going on with the fuzzy focus and dreamlike images. People are going here and there in front of a bank of mirrors. Then, all of a sudden, someone hands Vince a drill. But Vince doesn't stick it into a chunk of wood. Instead he plunges it into a man's heart! Good thing Vince wakes up in bed, maybe sweaty, but at least inside a focused reality. Must have been a bad dream, but then why the bloody wrist and where did that weird key come from. From what we see, it's almost like he's come back from a strange parallel world.

So did Cliff actually kill someone or was it just a bizarre subconscious. Good thing he's got Mr. sober-sides Cliff as a cop brother-in-law. Maybe Cliff can figure it out since it's driving Vince nutty. Trouble is Cliff thinks his in-law really did kill someone, but in the interest of family harmony resists turning him in. So how will all this weirdness turn out, and what's suddenly the big deal about a candle.

Kelley really nails his part as the hapless Vince. Catch his many shaded expressions as he suffers through the nightmare. Paul Kelly too nails his part with a no-nonsense demeanor that keeps things anchored. But the real star is the production itself that manages to dangle us between two worlds with the many off-center effects. Sure, too much storyline stretches over the edge. Still, it's pretty gripping stuff, straddling the murky line between noir and horror. The premise was loaded enough to get re-made a few years later, Nightmare (1956). But this one, I think, is better. So don't let it slip by.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

16 June 1948 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

And So Scared to Death See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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