Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Night Must Fall (1937)

IMDb plot summary: When a rich but cantankerous dowager on an isolated estates hires an engaging handyman, her niece/companion becomes suspicious of his motives.
Directed by Richard Thorpe. Starring Robert Montgomery, Rosalind Russell, Dame May Whitty, and Merle Tottenham.

I hadn't heard anything about this movie before I saw it, but apparently it's based on a play. That makes sense; it's an extremely dialogue-driven mystery thriller. I wasn't ever sold on Rosalind Russell's character -- I couldn't quite get into her back-and-forth between fear and attraction. That's a tough line to walk as an actress, and I didn't buy it from her. But oh my goodness. I now want to go watch everything Robert Montgomery has ever done. His was a much-deserved Oscar-nominated performance. The few moments when I *did* buy into Russell's performance, it was actually on the strength of his acting, not hers. The scene in the kitchen where he calls her out on her deliberate flirtation with danger was my favorite moment of the movie, wonderfully capitalizing on the building tension, both sexual and non-sexual. It's a great role, and it's a great script to showcase that role, and I just wish Russell's character was a little smarter or more capable or even just more self-aware to serve as an adequate foil to that role.

4 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
Night Must Fall > Dark City
Night Must Fall > Argo
Night Must Fall < A Man for All Seasons
Night Must Fall < Repulsion
Night Must Fall < Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Night Must Fall > Reservoir Dogs
Night Must Fall < Southside with You
Night Must Fall < Thermae Romae
Night Must Fall > Sleeping with Other People
Night Must Fall < Tickled

Final spot: #589 out of 2538.

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