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The Big Night (1951)

A teenager comes of age while seeking revenge on the man who beat up his father.

Director:

Joseph Losey

Writers:

Stanley Ellin (novel), Joseph Losey (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Drew Barrymore ... George La Main (as John Barrymore Jr.)
Preston Foster ... Andy La Main
Joan Lorring ... Marion Rostina
Howard St. John ... Al Judge
Dorothy Comingore ... Julie Rostina
Philip Bourneuf Philip Bourneuf ... Dr. Lloyd Cooper
Howland Chamberlain Howland Chamberlain ... Flanagan (as Howland Chamberlin)
Myron Healey ... Kennealy
Emile Meyer ... Peckinpaugh (as Emil Meyer)
Mauri Lynn ... Terry Angelus
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Storyline

George La Main, just turned 17, suffers growing pains and is anxious to prove his manhood. That night, George's adored father Andy is savagely beaten by sportswriter Al Judge. Traumatized and unable to learn why it happened, George goes gunning for Judge. His mission becomes an odyssey through the town's seamy side, and his coming of age is more of a trial by fire than he bargained for. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

whiskey | poker | metaxa | cognac | beer | See All (34) »

Taglines:

GRIPPING! Under cover of darkness a kid learns about life!


Certificate:

TV-PG | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 December 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Nacht der Wahrheit See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to interviews that director Joseph Losey gave in the mid-1970s to Michel Ciment, the FBI wanted to spy on him in Europe, where he relocated to work after being blacklisted by Hollywood because of his political activities. So they paid John Drew Barrymore (who became a good friend after this movie) to furnish information about Losey's political activities, if any, in London. Barrymore later met Losey in London and confessed to him about the money and expense account the FBI had given him to spy on Losey. Losey, recalling that the young actor had been under tremendous pressure at the time, forgave him and in fact suggested that they have several lavish meals together and put the cost on Barrymore's FBI expense account, which they promptly did. See more »

Goofs

The birthday cake is obviously fake. Flanagan removes the cake from the bar by grabbing the cake in a way that would have covered his hands in frosting if it were real. See more »

Quotes

Peckinpaugh: Next time you see somebody drop money, don't think about it so long before you decide to give it back.
See more »

Soundtracks

Am I Too Young
Music by Lyn Murray
Lyrics by Sid Kuller
Sung by Mauri Lynn (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
John Barrymore, Jr., memorable in coming-of-age noir
17 December 2001 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

Joseph Losey's The Big Night is a film noir that's also, like Moonrise and Talk About A Stranger, a coming-of-age story. The young male undergoing his transformational journey is John Barrymore, Jr., son of the Great Profile and father of Drew. His film career was not high-profile, as he inherited the family disposition toward chemical dependency (blood will tell). But here, boasting a luxuriantly healthy crown of hair, he gives a surprisingly intense yet controlled performance. His big night happens to be his 16th or 17th birthday, when his barkeep father is brutally beaten and publicly humiliated by a local sportswriter (Losey's staging is unflinching). Frustrations about his own Hamlet-like ditherings and confusions impel him to seek revenge on his father's behalf, and, gun in pocket, he sets out into a nightscape of prize fights, gin mills and the walk-up flats of casually met strangers. While Losey's sympathies lie with Barrymore, it's always clear that the emergent man is still a callow stripling, incapable of apprehending the complex reality he crashes into, like a fatted calf in a china shop. Though the director refrains from pushing the conclusion to where it might logically go -- he retreats into sentimentality and sententiousness -- The Big Night still scores as a provocative, moodily shot film.


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