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

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Edward Arnold and Ann Harding
EYES IN THE NIGHT (1942). Director: Fred Zinnemann.

Norma Lawry (Ann Harding) goes to see her old friend, the blind private eye Duncan Maclain (Edward Arnold), because she's concerned for her stepdaughter, Barbara (Donna Reed), who has fallen for a roue, Paul (John Emery), who was once involved with Norma. Naturally this roue is murdered, but Eyes in the Night is not a murder mystery, unfortunately. We learn early on that Paul was part of a spy ring run by Barbara's friend, the playwright Cheli Scott (Katherine Emery), and they are responsible for his death. Cheli and her cohorts want Norma's husband, Stephen (Reginald Denny), to turn over some secret plans to them under pain of death. With the assistance of his miraculous seeing-eye German Shepherd, Friday, will the sightless Maclain be able to save the day, catch the spies, and turn the plans over to Washington? The trouble with Eyes in the Night is that it has absolutely no suspense or surprises, only coming to life in the final minutes. Arnold [Dear Wife] and Harding [The Unknown Man] are fine, but the zestiest performances are from Donna Reed; Katherine Emery [The Locket]; Mantan Moreland as Maclain's butler; Stanley Ridges as Hanson, the Lawry's butler; and, of course, that amazing dog, Friday. Rosemary DeCamp and Stephen McNally are also good as a couple employed in the Lawry household and also in Cheli's gang. Barry Nelson, Steven Geray and Allen Jenkins have less to do. Three years later Arnold did a sequel, The Hidden Eye, but mercifully this did not become a series. Arnold also played Nero Wolfe in Meet Nero Wolfe in 1936. Director Fred Zinnemann went on to better things. This was Katherine Emery's (no relation to John) first film out of only twelve.

Verdict: Never have 80 minutes seemed so long. *1/2.

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