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Blu Ray Review: Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948)

Released on blu ray by Kino Lorber, John Farrow’s chilling noir is based on a story by the prolific Cornell Woolrich, who also notably wrote the story on which Alfred Hithcock’s Rear Window was based.

Edward G. Robinson plays a nightclub mentalist whose show is popular with the patrons. However, he eventually realizes he has a genuine psychic ability. Initially this pays off with predictions that result in gambling winnings and stock market purchases for himself as well as his friend Whitney Courtland (Jerome Cowan) and fiancée Jenny (Virginia Bruce). However, when he predicts Jenny’s death during childbirth, he convinces Whitney to marry Jenny and disappears. However, he discovers that Jenny still dies giving birth. Years later he runs into Jenny and Whitney’s daughter Jean (Gail Russell) and tries to convince her that her father will be killed in a plane crash. Jean tries to warn her father, but is too late. As the predictions become more dire, the film becomes more eerie and suspenseful, with John Lund, as Jean’s fiancée, a continuing skeptical presence.

The film is a compelling series of flashbacks with eerie music and Edward G. Robinson’s narrative voiceover. Robinson is magnificent in the role, trembling with fear, frowning in confusion, and jittery with a power that is consuming him. His character is trapped by his ability and spends the film confronting it and trying to find a way to harness it and prevent or avert what he has seen. In a career that is filled with exceptional performances, this one is among the fine actor’s best.

Barré Lyndon and Jonathan Latimer are the perfect screenwriters to adapt the Woolrich story into a film, keeping its compelling title and maintaining its magnificent eeeriness. Director John Farrow’s effective staging of scenes is greatly helped by John F. Seitz’s remarkable cinematography.

One of many great American post war film noir productions, Night Has a Thousand Eyes is dotted with welcome and familiar supporting actors like William Demarest, Richard Webb, and Onslow Stevens.

Kino Lorber’s blu ray is from a 2K remaster and offers a typically enlightening, interesting, entertaining, and informative commentary track by film historian Imogen Sara Smith.

The blu ray is available at this link: NIGHT/THOUSAND/EYES


James L. Neibaur
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