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

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Michael Redgrave
DEAD OF NIGHT (1945). Directors: (Alberto) Cavalcanti; Charles Crichton; Basil Dearden; Robert Hamer.

Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns of Edward, My Son) comes to a house to see about a possible restoration, and encounters a group of people that he has seen in a dream. He wants to leave, because in his nightmare things end very badly, but some of the guests tell of their own peculiar experiences. Grainger (Anthony Baird), a racer who nearly died, has a vision of a hearse that warns him of disaster; a young girl, Sally (Sally Ann Howes) discovers the ghost of a little boy (uncredited) during an party in an old house; Peter Cortland (Ralph Michael) is given an antique mirror whose original owner comes to possess him; a triangle over a woman, Mary (Peggy Bryan) and two golf enthusiasts leads to comical, supernatural complications; and Dr. Van Straaten (Frederick Valk of Bad Blonde) relates the tale of a ventriloquist (Michael Redgrave), who is convinced that his dummy, Hugo, is alive and wants a new partner. The best tale by far is the last of the five, and it boasts an intriguing script and a superb performance from Redgrave, whose despair is palpable. The mirror story isn't bad, but the other two aren't that well developed. The fourth story about the golf enthusiasts is pretty stupid and not especially amusing. Georges Auric [Caesar and Cleopatra] has contributed an interesting score. In addition to the ventriloquist story, the most memorable sequence details poor Walter's exacting and delirious nightmare.

Verdict: Redgrave and the dummy make the movie. *** out of 4.


angelman66 said...

This is one I've been reading about since childhood but have never seen. Is Michael Redgrave Vanessa and Lynn's father?

William said...

Yes, he is. He had a wife for many years, plus a family friend who was his male lover and companion for just as long. There are interesting books on the whole Redgrave dynasty with as much bed-hopping as acting, LOL!.

Dave in the basement said...

Very timely! This is one of my favorite old anthology films, and I finally had the chance to watch it with my father-in-law last week. The pair of golfers hosted a popular radio program back in the day, and that's why he speculated they were included.

William said...

I think your father-in-law is right about that. Their radio popularity would have to have been the reason they were included because their sequence was rather out of sync with the rest of the movie.

Thanks for the info and for your comments!