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The Night Runner (1957)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller | 2 April 1957 (USA)
A mental patient with a violent past is released from the institution, against the advice of his doctors, and sent back to his old neighborhood. Realizing that he can't handle the pressures... See full summary »


Abner Biberman


Owen Cameron (story), Gene Levitt


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Credited cast:
Ray Danton ... Roy Turner
Colleen Miller Colleen Miller ... Susan Mayes
Merry Anders ... Amy Hansen
Willis Bouchey ... Loren Mayes
Harry Jackson Harry Jackson ... Hank Hansen
Robert Anderson ... Ed Wallace
Jean Inness Jean Inness ... Miss Dodd
Eddy Waller ... Vernon
John Stephenson ... Dr. Crawford
Alexander Campbell ... Dr. Royce
Natalie Masters ... Miss Lowell
Richard H. Cutting ... Male interviewer (as Richard Cutting)
Steve Pendleton ... Captain Reynolds
Jack Lomas Jack Lomas ... Real Estate man
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
George Barrows ... Bus driver


A mental patient with a violent past is released from the institution, against the advice of his doctors, and sent back to his old neighborhood. Realizing that he can't handle the pressures of big-city life, and not wanting to commit the kinds of crimes that got him put away in the first place, he hops a bus heading out of the city and winds up in a small coastal town. Taking a room in a small motel, he falls for the daughter of the motel's owner, and everything seems to be going well for him, until the girl's father starts to get suspicious about his past. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

mental illness | See All (1) »


Are Mental Patients Turned Loose too Soon?


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

2 April 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Bitmiyen çile See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Referenced in Where's Marlowe? (1998) See more »

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User Reviews

Oddly Memorable
2 February 2012 | by dougdoepkeSee all my reviews

A patient released prematurely from a mental hospital tries to find a new life at a roadside stopover.

I can't imagine more than ten people saw this little oddity in a theatre. I expect the movie's risky downer material got made because it was so cheap to produce. Reviewer bmacy's right —the budget is rock bottom, a few shots of the Malibu coastline, an office interior, and that's pretty much it, along with a minimal cast. So why has the movie stayed with me over the years, instead of being just another forgotten cheapo.

The film's not a minor gem—that would be too much of a stretch. Instead, I think Danton's performance manages a level that truly disturbs, especially with the tight script and noirish background. Catch the occasional little motion or grimace betraying Roy's (Danton) inner turmoil as he struggles with a society full of minor pressures. It's a carefully calibrated performance that shows how an emotive "more" can be expressed by a judicious "less". And since Roy is basically a likable guy, his plight becomes doubly affecting as he tries to blend into a normal life. That last lonely shot of him is, I think, one of the more disturbing to come out of the generally cheerful 1950's.

On a different note—I suspect Hitchcock, also at Universal at the time, caught this minor production since the project bears certain key similarities to Psycho (1960). Consider, for example, the roadside motel, the disturbed personality, the brutal murder, along with the symbolic use of birds, in this case sea gulls. Nothing really hangs on the comparison, except maybe the notion that a widely acclaimed classic managed to grow out of an obscure seedbed. Anyway, this little oddity has its own peculiar virtues, so catch up with it if you can.

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