Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 1, 2012


Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor
THE NIGHT WALKER (1964). Director: William Castle.

Irene Trent (Barbara Stanwyck) has an imaginary lover in her dreams, which doesn't sit well with her husband, Howard (Hayden Rourke), who thinks the lover is for real, and complains about it to his lawyer, Barry (Robert Taylor). But pretty soon Irene is having honest to goodness midnight rendezvous with a dark-haired stranger (LLoyd Bochner) but in the morning isn't certain whether or not she dreamed it all. Is there some plot perhaps afoot? Vic Mizzy's music seems to do most of the work, although sometimes it's so overdone it makes the picture seem worse instead of better. Stanwyck --- this is her entry in the "aging actress in a horror film" sweepstakes entered by Joan Crawford for Castle's superior Strait-Jacket the same year -- gets to scream a lot and look perplexed. Unfortunately Robert Bloch's obvious screenplay doesn't actually give her or anyone else a real character to play. Stanwyck and Taylor had once been married in real life, but had been divorced for many years when this picture was made. The acting is okay, but the movie is not even remotely scary.

Verdict: A distinctly minor suspense film that not even the stars can save. **.


dj Buddy Beaverhausen said...

You're so right. Good to see the divorced star couple in a new film. But tepid suspense. Only enjoyment is watching Stanwyck dabble in the '60s Grand Guignol genre.

William said...

On the money, Buddy. Supposedly Taylor hated the idea of working with his ex-wife but had already committed before he got word she was to be his co-star. Would have been more fun seeing Stanwyck teamed with off-screen pal Joan Crawford.