Film Review: Fear In the Night (1947)

Also known as: And So Scared to Death, Nightmare (both working titles)
Release Date: April 18th, 1947
Directed by: Maxwell Shane
Written by: Maxwell Shane
Based on: Nightmare by Cornell Woolrich
Music by: Rudy Schrager
Cast: Paul Kelly, DeForest Kelley, Ann Doran, Kay Scott

Pine-Thomas Productions, Paramount Pictures, 72 Minutes


“I’ve got an honest man’s conscience… in a murderer’s body.” – Vince Grayson

I came across this old noir film that stars DeForest Kelley. Being a big “Bones” McCoy fan, I figured that I’d check it out.

In this film, we meet Kelley’s Vince Grayson. He wakes up from a nightmare where he killed a man in a strange octagonal house. However, he finds blood on his wrist and some items in his pocket from the nightmare. He is convinced that the nightmare was real and confides in his friend Cliff about the incident. Cliff thinks Vince is just overworked and exhausted and doesn’t believe his dream could be real. However, there is much more to this mystery as the film continues on.

This picture was pleasantly surprising. I thought it would be a low budget throwaway noir movie, as they were a dime a dozen in the late 1940s. It certainly wasn’t magnificent but it filled its scant running time with a decent story and a pretty good reveal and conclusion. Also, DeForest Kelly wasn’t bad for being at the beginning of his long acting career.

The cinematography and camerawork were also a bit impressive for the overall quality and budget of this thing. The scenes in the octagonal room with the mirrored walls came off brilliantly. Visually the one-point perspective of the shot setup allowed the camera to peer down the central mirror and then also veer down the two angled sides beside it, almost implying the varying paths the main character’s mind could venture down. Or sort of implying his split personality between the real world and his dream world where he is a killer.

Realistically, Fear In the Night is just a bit better than your average bear in the noir genre but it showed that the people behind it had a lot more skill than the average bear. For fans of the genre, it is probably worth checking out. You won’t be stunned or shocked by it but it should be fairly enjoyable. And if it isn’t, it’s only 72 minutes.

Rating: 6/10

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