Friday, November 25, 2022

#2,868. Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948) - Edward G. Robinson Triple Feature


Director John Farrow’s 1948 movie Night Has a Thousand Eyes is a unique film noir in that it blends elements of the supernatural into the mix.

As the story opens, socialite Jean Courtland (Gail Russell) is in a railway yard about to commit suicide when she is saved by her fiancée Elliot Carson (John Lund). The two make their way to a nearby restaurant, where they meet John Triton (Edward G. Robinson), a psychic who inadvertently caused Jean’s suicide attempt by telling her she would be dead within the week.

Triton then gives the young couple a brief history of his life. Twenty years earlier, he and his fiancé Jenny (Virginia Bruce), with the help of their good friend Court (Jerome Cowan), had a stage act in which Triton would pretend to tell people’s fortunes, only to realize he could, at times, actually see into the future. Frightened by this power, Triton left Jenny and cut himself off from the world.

When Triton disappeared, Jenny married Court, and had one child: Jean! In an effort to save the daughter of the two most important people in his life, Triton came out of hiding to help alter the future and prevent Jean’s death. But when a skeptical Elliot drags the police into it, Triton finds his efforts to save Jean may be over before they can begin.

From the word “go”, Night Has a Thousand Eyes is a mesmerizing motion picture. The opening scene in the railway yard is perfectly staged, with Farrow and his director of Photography John F. Seitz utilizing darkness and shadows to get the movie off to an eerie start. From there, it becomes the Edward G. Robinson show, with the actor narrating his character’s flashback scenes, where we witness not only his uncanny ability to see into the future (during his stage show, he tells a young mother her son is in danger, and she should rush home to save him), but the negative impact it has had on his life (Triton is convinced that it was him seeing into the future that ultimately caused the terrible events he predicted; had he not seen them, they may not have happened).

The second half of Night Has a Thousand Eyes, in which Triton, Jean, Elliot, and police lieutenant Shawn (the always entertaining William Demarest) are holed up in Jean’s estate, hoping to avert the catastrophe that Triton predicted, is not quite as engaging as the film’s initial scenes. Still, they are entertaining enough, and by the time it is over Night Has a Thousand Eyes proved a near-perfect blend of fantasy and film noir, and is a movie that fans of classic cinema won’t want to miss.
Rating: 9 out of 10

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