Nightfall (1957)

Nightfall (1957)

“Yeah, I’ve got problems — who hasn’t?”

A man (Aldo Ray) falsely accused of murder tries to escape from two bank robbers (Brian Keith and Rudy Bond), who believe Ray has their stolen money. Meanwhile, Ray is trailed by an insurance investigator (James Gregory) hoping to find the money himself.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Aldo Ray Films
  • Anne Bancroft Films
  • Brian Keith Films
  • Falsely Accused
  • Flashback Film
  • Fugitives
  • Jacques Tourneur Films

This well-acted, suspenseful B-noir by director Jacques Tourneur features inspired casting, with Aldo Ray an unlikely yet sympathetic leading man, and Anne Bancroft suitably adventurous as his new love interest. Screenwriter Stirling Silliphant (working from a story by David Goodis) makes good use of flashbacks to unveil Ray’s story, gradually revealing why he chooses to stay on the lam rather than go to the police. The snowy climax in Wyoming brings this enjoyable yarn to a tense and dramatic end.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Aldo Ray as the falsely accused fugitive
  • Anne Bancroft as Ray’s new girlfriend: “You’re the most wanted man I know.”
  • Atmospheric cinematography
  • The snowy climax

Must See?
No, but it’s highly recommended.


3 thoughts on “Nightfall (1957)

  1. A must – an unheralded gem. Director Tourneur is something of a personal favorite and I include this among his best (along with ‘Cat People’, ‘I Walked With a Zombie’, ‘Out of the Past’, etc.).

    It has a great noir set-up – one which apparently sucks me in for the rest ’cause I didn’t want to take notes on it as I watched; just wanted to get swept up in it.

    Silliphant’s layered screenplay is rather sharp and contains meaty dialogue:
    Bancroft, when Ray picks her up: “See anything familiar?”
    Ray: “Familiar looks very different.”
    As well, and as noted, Bancroft’s memorable line to Ray, “You’re the most wanted man I know.”

    I do wish one moment had been changed: when Ray and Bancroft are escaping at one point, he picks her up and carries her to a taxi since she’s in heels. She should have taken off her shoes; it’s just too silly. (It’s also odd to hear Bancroft, a model, referred to during a fashion show as a “mannequin”.)

    Gotta say I’ve got a weakness for both Ray and Keith – and here they are in good roles in one film. Sigh.

  2. Personally, the “swept off her feet” moment didn’t bother me; Ray was all action, and did what he thought he should to keep things moving. I do agree re: the odd use of the word “mannequin”; I almost cited that entire scene as a “Redeeming Moment”, simply because it’s such an interesting, non-Technicolor glimpse at ’50s fashion shows (do they still exist?).

  3. Just thought it was silly. Ray could’ve said something action- like: “We gotta roll, babe; ditch the heels!”

    Fashion shows seem strictly non-commentary catwalk these days. But not being anything close to a fashion hound…

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