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: Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948)  ( 117 )
cigar joe
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« : January 11, 2019, 04:24:59 AM »



A Paramount Noir so don't hold your breath TCM fans. Directed by John Farrow (The Big Clock (1948), Alias Nick Beal (1949), and Where Danger Lives (1950)). The screenplay was by Barré Lyndon and Jonathan Latimer. Based on the novel of the same name by Cornell Woolrich.

The Music was by Victor Young and the Cinematography was by John F. Seitz who lensed This Gun for Hire (1942), Double Indemnity (1944), The Lost Weekend (1945), The Big Clock (1948), Appointment with Danger (1950), Sunset Boulevard (1950), and others.

Stars: Edward G. Robinson as John Triton 'The Mental Wizard', Gail Russell as Jean Courtland, John Lund as Elliott Carson, Virginia Bruce as Jenny Courtland, William Demarest as Lt. Shawn, Richard Webb as Peter Vinson, Jerome Cowan as Whitney Courtland.


The Cornell Woolrich book was a real slog. To make it simple I'll use the film characters names and delineate the books action in italics and the film in regular type.

An off duty police detective taking a walk along Riverside Drive in Washington Heights he finds some gloves then an expensive cigarette case, then another item following them, like bread crumbs he follows the trail onto the George Washington Bridge where he gets to a young woman Jean Courtland who is contemplating committing suicide. He reaches her just as she is about to leap. When he saves her she is delirious and complaining about the stars watching her.

He takes her to a cafe where she tells her story.



The film begins dramatically with a shot of a Southern Pacific steam locomotive switch engine roaring through a rail yard. Jean Courtland's boyfriend Elliott Carson gets out of his convertible, he looks about. As he searches around, he firsts finds a pair of Jean's gloves, between some rails, continuing he next finds the contents of her purse including a cigarette case strewn about a stretch of tracks. Looking about he spots Jean climbing a spiral staircase that leads to a signal maintenance bridge across the tracks.


Elliott Carson (John Lund)








Elliott runs to the bridge and starts up after Jean. Jean climbs over the rail and is about to jump down to the tracks as the switcher approaches when Elliott saves her. He takes her back to his car where she asks if he could put the top up because the stars are watching. Elliott takes her to a cafe where she sees John Triton and then she knows how Elliott found her.

In the cafe Jean relates that she is despondent because a man John Triton who sees the future has devastated the life of her father. She tells the detective that he gave her father stock quotes and tips and predicted the crash of a plane that he was supposed to be on. He then predicts the time and place and method (involving a lion) of her father's actual death, and tells her a series of strange seemingly bizarre things that will occur preceding it. Her father as each weird event/thing happens, through worry is reduced to a functioning corpse.

At the cafe John Triton tells his story. He had a phony mentalist act that worked off a code. A woman Jenny, Jean's future mother, was the cheesecake that worked the audience collecting questions filled out by the audience and sealing them in envelopes and depositing them in a fishbowl.


John Triton (Edward G. Robinson)


Jean Courtland (Gail Russell)



John reveals to Jean that one night during the act a vision came to him like raindrops on a window and he actually began to see visions of things to come.

John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': [to Jean and Elliott] I, uh, suppose that most people when they're looking back can see the exact point where their lives are touched by something... a new job, an unexpected inheritance, a quick decision, but I can't. My destiny came upon me... imperceptibly like
[Indicating with his finger]
John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': the first thin drops of rain are noticed on a window pane. It wasn't until the third or fourth or fifth drops that I became aware of this rain that was to engulf my life. I remember the date, August 3, 1928. we were playing a one-night stand in a small town in Louisiana, Glenberry
[Dissolve to flashback]
John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': Triton, The Mental Wizard and Company! Three twelve minute shows a day sandwiched with the Toto and His Tumbling Dogs and a troupe of acrobats. The act deserved better billing. It was a phony, of course, like most mind-reading acts, but it was a first class phony.
[laughs]

The fishbowl was placed on a table near John and he identified the various audience members and answered their questions without ever touching the envelopes. He didn't have to. Whitney Courtland  the acts pianist was the person who actually was passed the real envelope. The switch was made with identical fish bowls. Whitney opened an envelope read the question and by the means of playing certain tunes and emphasizing certain notes conveyed by code the information to John who then wowed the audience.




John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': if I do say so myself. Nobody knew how we did it. It was the late show - 11:37, and while Jenny was collecting the envelopes with the usual familiar questions: 'Will I take a trip?', 'Is my husband faithful?', 'Should I marry my boyfriend?', I was winding up my spiel....

He stops in the middle of it and tells a woman in the audience wearing a straw hat with daisies that she better get home quickly, her son is in danger. After the show the woman and her husband thank John and tells him that their son had found a book of matches and had started a fire.

John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': This gift, which I never asked for and don't understand, has brought me only unhappiness!

The way the act worked was after the collection, the fishbowl was placed on a table near John and he identified the various audience members and answered their questions without ever touching the envelopes. He didn't have to. Whitney Courtland  the acts pianist was the person to whom the actual real envelopes were passed. The switch was made with either identical fish bowls or by Jenny's slight of hand, it's never actually detailed. Whitney would then behind the piano and out of sight from the audience open an envelope read the question and by the means of playing certain tunes and emphasizing certain notes conveyed by prearranged code the information to John who then wowed the audience. Jenny and John were in love and planned to marry.



Whitney doesn't believe John at first until he give him a tip on a racehorse that ends up paying ten to one. John begins to get stock tips, one is for the stock of an unknown oil company called Comanche Hills which ends up becoming one of the biggest strikes in the country.


Whitney Courtland. (Jerome Cowan)

Meanwhile John encounters a newsboy at the stage entrance to the theater he sees a vision of the boy getting run over by a truck, He is about to tell the boy not to cross the street but decides that he should ignore the vision.

John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': I was becoming more frightened every day, and I began to have a crazy feeling that... I was making the things come true - like a voodoo sorcerer who kills people by sticking pins in the doll. I thought of the man with a broken collar bone, the boy with the matches. Would anything have happened to them if I had kept quiet?

John doesn't tell the boy not to cross the street which results in the boy getting killed.

Continued.....

« : January 11, 2019, 04:27:51 AM cigar joe »

"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
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« #1 : January 11, 2019, 04:25:37 AM »

Continuing....

John shaken, takes off not saying anything, he leaves Jenny and the act heads to Los Angeles and becomes something of a hermit living on Bunker Hill in the Sunshine Apartments. Jenny in the intervening years marries Whitney and dies in childbirth. Jean is Jenny's daughter  When the new Comanche Hills Oil Company building goes up in Los Angeles John is there in the crowd to see Jean and Whitney. When John does see them he gets visions about a plane crash and about Jean. When the crash does occur Whitney is killed and John fears for Jean's life. Here the flashback in the film ends and we return to the cafe.







In the novel the police figure John's some kind of scam artist working with insiders and they put a surveillance team on him. The book has John living somewhere in a tenement out in the far boroughs either Queens or Brooklyn it's never specified. All the seemingly benign occurrences that John mentions will come to pass leading up to Whitney's death in the novel are transposed to Jean in the film. The Woolrich novel has a way of slowly building dread in the tiniest of increments that can sometimes drag on to far for his own good.

At the cafe John warns Jean that on a certain day at 11:00 PM she will die. Elliott tells the police who now swing into action to protect Jean because as they say she is young, she is unprotected and the perfect target for a confidence man. A homicide detective Lt. Shawn is assigned to the case. On the appointed day of Jean's demise the police surround the Courtland mansion. At the mansion Lt. Shawn meets the executives of the Comanche Hills Oil Company and  surprised to see John Triton there also.


Lt. Shawn (William Demarest)

John even offers his help. Lt Shawn who scoffs at first. John explains that if he can see things more clearly that perhaps they can take precautions. When asked how he accounts for his alleged visions John replies.....

John Triton aka 'The Mental Wizard': Well I've thought a great deal about these visions and I've come across a statement that nearly covers it. Suppose you're on a train, you look out the window and you see a white farmhouse, in a minute it's gone and you see cattle in a field, and just ahead even though he can't see it yet a clump of maple trees, past present, and future. But to the man on top of the train they're all one. In one glance he can see farmhouse, cattle, and trees. Well occasionally I'm like that man on the train even though I man be sitting inside it. 

The rest of the film details the bizarre events involving among other things a theft of a piece of jewelry, a crushed flower, and a lion, leading up to the 11 PM deadline.

Noirsville













Woolrich's The Phantom Lady novel  (written under his pseudonym William Irish) is similarly plodding, compared to the Film. Deadline at Dawn is a better first read, but so far I find I prefer his short stories over the novels that I have read. But I haven't read many so that could change.

Robinson is great as the mentalist, William Demarest is good as the cynical homicide detective and Gail Russell, John Lund, Virginia Bruce and Jerome Cowan are quite adequate. The screen caps are from an Italian TV presentation that a friend of mine in Rome says has been available for 30 years. 7/10

« : January 11, 2019, 04:28:47 AM cigar joe »

"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
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« #2 : January 11, 2019, 07:22:17 AM »

I like the film a lot. The German DVD is very good.



Ya measly skunk! A-campin’ on my trail and lettin’ me do the work an’ then shootin’ me in the back. IN THE BACK!
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« #3 : January 11, 2019, 08:52:20 AM »

I like the film a lot. The German DVD is very good.

Thanks good to know.


"When you feel that rope tighten on your neck you can feel the devil bite your ass"!
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