Nightfall (1957)

“Nice place. I’ll try not to bleed over everything.” Okay, so the Nightfall poster exuded hyperbole when it screamed “YOU COULD GO TO THE MOVIES EVERY DAY FOR FIVE YEARS – BEFORE YOU’D SEE ANOTHER PICTURE WITH SO MANY THRILLS AND SO MUCH SUSPENSE!” However, Nightfall is a fairly entertaining, low-budget film noir directed by Jacques Tourneur (Out of the Past) that features some nice performances, offbeat touches and outstanding cinematography from Burnett Guffey. Based on a 1947 novel by David Goodis, Nightfall opens with former commercial artist “James Vanning” (Aldo Ray) on the run from both the cops and a pair of sadistic gangsters – “John” (Brian Keith) and “Red” (Rudy Bond) – who believe he possesses $350,000 of their stolen loot from a bank robbery. In a series of flashbacks we learn that Vanning and his buddy, “Dr. Edward Gurston” (Frank Albertson) were on a winter hunting trip in Wyoming. The two inept bank robbers crash their car in the snow, kill Gurston and leave Vanning for dead. However, these two dimwits take off with the doctor’s medical bag by mistake instead of the loot! Vanning escapes with the cash but loses it during a blizzard. Now, with the bank robbers on his tail, an extremely paranoid Vanning and his new love interest, fashion model “Marie Gardner” (Anne Bancroft), head back to Wyoming to try and recover the loot and clear his name. Watch out for that errant snow plow! Also look for James Gregory as shrewd insurance investigator “Ben Fraser,” who’s also tracking Vanning in order to try to recover the cash. Jocelyn Brando portrays Fraser’s wife, “Laura.” Nightfall would make a great double feature with Fargo (1996). Useless Trivia: Guffey won two Best Cinematography Oscars for From Here to Eternity (1953) and Bonnie and Clyde (1967).

Leave a Reply

Close Menu