Search - Fear in the Night on DVD

Fear in the Night
Fear in the Night
Actors: Paul Kelly, DeForest Kelley, Ann Doran, Kay Scott, Charles Victor (II)
Genres: Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
NR     2003     1hr 12min


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Movie Details

Actors: Paul Kelly, DeForest Kelley, Ann Doran, Kay Scott, Charles Victor (II)
Genres: Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Alpha Video
Format: DVD - Black and White
DVD Release Date: 06/24/2003
Original Release Date: 04/18/1947
Theatrical Release Date: 04/18/1947
Release Year: 2003
Run Time: 1hr 12min
Screens: Black and White
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

If only we could see it.
Martin J. Kelly, Jr. | Bronx, NY, USA | 08/12/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)

"This is a great old noir film, typical B-feature. I saw this as a child and was haunted for a few years by its eerieness. But, this DVD appears to be a copy of something shot off a movie screen with a camcorder and its visual quality is just at the threshold of human perception. The low price made it attractive enough to revive my memory of the more visible original."
A great old film noir movie starring DeForest Kelly
Daniel Jolley | Shelby, North Carolina USA | 08/30/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Two decades before he boldly went where no man had gone before aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, DeForest Kelly starred in Fear in the Night, a vintage dark noir film (not to be confused with the 1972 Hammer film of the same name). Kelly plays a humble bank teller named Vince Grayson who awakens from a horrible dream, only to find that his nightmare may have been all too real. In the dream, he struggled with and then killed a man inside an odd octagonal room of mirrors. His relief upon waking up is dashed when he looks in the mirror and finds thumb marks on his neck. A quick self-inventory also reveals dried blood on his wrist and, most disturbingly of all, a key and button in his pocket, the very same items he grasped during his struggle in the dream. Naturally, he is both bewildered and horrified, and his need to talk about the situation leads him to his brother-in-law. Given the fact that his brother-in-law is a homicide detective, this doesn't strike me as the ideal plan. In any event, the guy doesn't believe him. A week later, Vince accompanies his sister and her cop husband as well as his own would-be sweetheart on a picnic. They seek shelter in a house at the beginning of a rainstorm, and wouldn't you know it, it's the same house as the one in Vince's dream. Things suddenly aren't looking too good for Vince, especially when he learns that a man was murdered in the house a week earlier. There's really only one fairly predictable way to explain these confusing events, yet the film still manages to maintain a significant amount of suspense up through its final moments. I found Fear in the Night to be quite a good film noir movie, complete with all the voiceovers and crescendo-happy music you would expect to find in this type of film."
A solid bottom half for a double bill, thanks to Paul Kelly
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 12/05/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Fear in the Night may be just another B movie designed to fill out a double bill, but it has some good things going for it. And that makes it a watchable, interesting noir.

Vince Grayson (DeForest Kelly), a pleasant, unexceptional young bank teller, wakes up one morning after a horrendous nightmare. He dreamed he was in a mirrored room, locked in a terrible fight with a strange man. He finds himself with a sharp-pointed awl in his hand and he drives it into the other man's chest. Then he drags the body into one of the small rooms behind one of the mirrored doors. When he wakes he's covered with sweat. He makes his way to the bathroom in the small hotel room he rents and finds thumbprints on his throat and blood on his hand. In his coat pocket he finds a blue button and an odd-shaped key. He makes his way to his sister's house to talk with her husband, Cliff Herlihy (Paul Kelly), a police detective. Herlihy just puts Cliff's story down to stress. But a couple of days later, driving out for a picnic with his girl friend, his sister and Cliff, Vince suggests they go to Salado Canyon, a place he's never been to before. In a downpour, Vince directs them to a large, dark house he's never seen. He knows where the key is under the mat. The house is empty, with the furniture and curtains covered by large, white drop cloths. He goes upstairs with Cliff and finds a small, mirrored room, and behind one of the mirrored doors, bloodstains.

Vince's nightmare is just beginning. Did he kill a man in the house? Why would he? Who were the two people killed there when Vince and Cliff talked with a local cop? Cliff Herlihy now is convinced that murders took place, that Vince wasn't responsible...and that Vince still might be a killer. Clever deductions take place, traps are set, and Vince almost pays with his life.

The movie may have been made to be the bottom half of a double bill, but is still is a lot of fun to watch. First of all, it's efficient. At just 72 minutes, the movie doesn't waste a moment. Blink your eyes and you'll lose a clue, miss a motivation or lose out on some affectionate by-play between the detective and his wife. Second, the movie has several nicely constructed moments. Vince's nightmare is well-handled. The house where the murder took place is big and a little creepy. Vince's hotel, the New Commodore, and the downtown street where it's located looks exactly like a lot of similar places in the late Forties. Vince's encounter with a man who is holding a candle is odd and unsettling. The relationship between Vince's sister, Lil Herlihy (Ann Doran) and her husband is a nice combination of affectionate bickering and genuine love. Third, while all the actors do nice jobs, Paul Kelly as Cliff Herlihy is a standout. Kelly was a fixture in B movies and he almost always was better than his material. He played bad guys and good guys, but his style was confident and tough. And he was tough. In the Twenties he spent two years in San Quentin for killing a man in a fist fight. He was a fine actor who, if given a chance, was just as good playing off-kilter or cowards. The scenes he has with Gloria Grahame in Crossfire are weird and memorable.

Most of all, the story has that terrific pulp noir feel; not great, perhaps, but satisfying. The story came from "Nightmare" by Cornell Woolrich writing as William Irish. Woolrich's pulp mysteries are still among the best, and I doubt if anyone had more noirish movies made from his books and stories. Here are some, from Wikipedia:

Original Sin (2001 film) (novel "Waltz into Darkness")
Union City (1980 film) (short story "The Corpse Next Door")
Seven Blood-Stained Orchids (1972 film) (novel Rendezvous in Black)
Nightmare (1956) (story)
Rear Window (1954) (story "It Had to Be Murder")
No Man of Her Own (1950) (story "I Married a Dead Man")
The Window (1949) (story "The Boy Who Cried Murder")
Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948) (novel)
I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes (1948) (novel)
The Return of the Whistler (1948) (story)
Fear in the Night (1948) (story "Nightmare") (as William Irish)
The Guilty (1947) (story "He Looked Like Murder")
Fall Guy (1947) (story "Cocaine")
The Chase (1946 film) (novel The Black Path of Fear)
Black Angel (1946 film) (novel)
Deadline at Dawn (novel) (as William Irish)
The Mark of the Whistler (1944) (story)
Phantom Lady (1944) (novel) (as William Irish)
The Leopard Man (1943) (novel Black Alibi)

Read 'em and enjoy. See 'em and enjoy.

The Alpha Video DVD release of this public domain movie is no better than you'd expect. It's watchable. There are only six chapter stops and they're arbitrarily placed. The back-cover blurb on the DVD case talks about Cliff Herlihy being "stricken by horrific nightmares." It's Vince Grayson who has the nightmares; Herlihy is Grayson's brother-in-law cop. This will give you some idea of the attention being given to these old films."
Oneiric Little B-Noir. One Man's Bad Dream Becomes His Real-
mirasreviews | McLean, VA USA | 07/14/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

""Fear in the Night" is a semi-supernatural thriller adapted by the film's director Maxwell Shane from Cornell Woolrich's story "Nightmare". This is a true B-movie, complete with clumsy but not ineffective visual effects, clocking in at only one hour and 10 minutes. As in so many B-movies of the 1940s, the economical narrative gives us a lot of movie in a short time. It lacks the hard edge and stylistic sophistication of many film noirs, but "Fear in the Night" probably falls within the noir style. Its introverted, chaotic, paranoid universe inside the protagonist's mind is the stuff that both existential and surrealist thinkers found to love in film noir.

"Fear in the Night" opens with a puzzling, vaguely lit scene inside an octagonal room with mirrored walls. It hardly seems real. A man and a woman are trying to drill a safe when another man interrupts them. The two men struggle, and the second man kills the first. The next morning, Vince Grayson (DeForest Kelley) awakes from a nightmare of killing a man in that room. But evidence suggests that it may not have been a dream. Unsure if his memory is real or imagined, tormented by violent visions, he seeks the advice of his police detective brother-in-law Cliff Herlihy (Paul Kelly). Cliff insists that the dream could not be real. Vince's uneasy, muddled mental state persists, so Cliff to browbeats him into accompanying the family on a picnic in the country. Vince begins to remember the landscape . Seeking shelter from a thunderstorm, he leads them to a house with the octagonal mirrored room. Now Cliff is convinced that Vince is a murderer and a liar.

It's unfortunate that Vince's character is not fleshed out more. But the confusion, torment, and alienation that bring him to the brink of self-destruction come across strongly. That's why "Fear in the Night" works. Vince is an Everyman suddenly plunged into a nightmare, unsure of his own mind, unable to connect with the people who care for him. He doesn't even know if the situation is one of his own making or something that fate has cruelly thrust upon him. His life is suddenly out of his control. I can't say that DeForest Kelley is anything more than adequate. Credit for what this film does well has to go to its director. It's not a polished film. The score is overbearing. But "Fear in the Night" gets us inside of Vince's living nightmare. The Alpha Video DVD (2003) is full of specks and spots and has generally poor picture and sound quality, including some clipped dialogue. It's watchable but nothing more. No bonus features."