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Genres: Crime , Film-Noir , Drama
Actors: Aldo Ray , Brian Keith , Anne Bancroft , Jocelyn Brando , James Gregory , Frank Albertson , Rudy Bond
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Country: United States
Year: 1957
IMDB Rating: 7.1/10 (1035 votes)

There is money missing from a bank job, an attractive model, an insurance investigator, and two extremely dangerous thugs. James Vanning (Aldo Ray) portrays an innocent man on the run, being pursued by the criminals who stupidly misplaced their take from the crime and think he has it or knows where it is hidden. Add model Marie Gardner (Anne Bancroft) who crossed paths with nice guy Vanning, while he is on the run. This all adds up to a thriller wherein the viewer is drawn into the story and becomes part of the drama. When Marie says “things that really happen are difficult to explain” it captures the theme of this film. A nice girl helps a nice guy, who is innocent and is drawn into the drama. As tension mounts she says: “I am always meeting the wrong man, and it leads to doomed relationships.” Marie inadvertently leads Vanning into the hands of the villains. However, she is a pseudo-femme fatale, innocently involved in the intrigue and, like the viewer, is gradually drawn into the plot. Beside one of the more chilling murder scenes for that era, the film has a three part flashback, which takes the viewer from a cityscape and menacing oil wells to the snow-covered plains of Wyoming and back to the streets of Hollywood. The interplay of high contrast images makes it worth seeing, but the story keeps the viewer engaged.

Film Review

Although it is far from a masterpiece, "Nightfall", a low-budget film noir (stunningly photographed by Burnett Guffey), is one of Jacques Tourneur’s finest films. What amazed me about "Nightfall" was the way it resembles Tourneur’s previous films in its depiction of chance and coincidence. The similarity to "Out of the Past" (the duality between past and present, city and country, the use of flashbacks) is somewhat obvious. But consider the opening chance encounter between Vanning (Aldo Ray) and Marie (Anne Bancroft). It recalls the similar (though different) chance meetings between Irena and Oliver at the zoo in Tourneur’s "Cat People"(1942), and Dr. Bailey and Cissie on the train at the beginning of "Experiment Perilous"(1944). If you watch it closely at the opening scenes, Marie’s seat beside Vanning at the bar is empty BEFORE she appears. So, we expect the seat to be filled. I didn’t notice it when I first saw the film, but critic …

Notwithstanding its very title, for his penultimate noir thriller (stylishly shot by the great Burnett Guffey), director Jacques Tourneur – who could easily lay claim to having made the quintessential example of this most beloved and influential of film genres, OUT OF THE PAST (1947) – largely abandons the safe familiarity of rain-swept Los Angeles night streets for the deadliness of blindingly white Wyoming snowscapes.Screenwriter Stirling Silliphant's adaptation of noted crime writer David Goodis' novel is well-served by a second team cast: Aldo Ray is an artist on the run from both police (who think he killed his older best friend on account of his young wife) and thugs (who think he made away with their $350,000 loot from a recent bank job); Anne Bancroft is the fashion model he takes it on the lam with after the usual "getting off on the wrong foot" start (she practically lands him into the villains' lap thinking they were policemen!); the bumpy…

NIGHTFALL is a modest film noir put together by masterful talents who weren't quite on their game this time. Jacques Tournier directed the seminal noir masterpiece OUT OF THE PAST and other great movies. Stirling Silliphant contributed to the screenplays for CHARLY, SHAFT IN Africa, THE NAKED CITY, and THE ENFORCER. Brian Keith, Anne Bancroft and James Gregory had distinguished and successful theatrical and television careers. So why is NIGHTFALL not a classic?One significant problem is Aldo Ray, who is earnest but never convincing, though the screenplay has problems, as well. Once Bancroft is exposed as a hired betrayer to Ray, there is never an adequate explanation for why he goes back to her. Worse, there is little chemistry between Bancroft and Ray, and their relationship never rings true in a movie where that connection is crucial to buying into the premise. It appears the producers were trying to create one of those "who can you really trust" movies, but it winds …

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