Dead of Night

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Dead of Night
DeadOfNight1.jpg
Dead of Night US release poster
Directed byCavalcanti ("Christmas Party" and "The Ventriloquist's Dummy")
Charles Crichton ("Golfing Story")
Basil Dearden ("Hearse Driver" and "Linking Narrative")
Robert Hamer ("The Haunted Mirror")
Produced byMichael Balcon
Written byH.G. Wells (original story)
E.F. Benson (original story)
John Baines (original story and screenplay)
Angus MacPhail (original story and screenplay)
StarringMichael Redgrave
Mervyn Johns
Frederick Valk
Roland Culver
Music byGeorges Auric
London Philharmonic Orchestra
CinematographyJack Parker
Stanley Pavey
Douglas Slocombe
Edited byCharles Hasse
Distributed byEagle-Lion Distributors Limited (UK)
Universal Pictures (US)
Release dates4 September 1945 (UK)
28 June 1946 (USA)
Running time102 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish
 
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For other uses, see Dead of Night (disambiguation).
Dead of Night
DeadOfNight1.jpg
Dead of Night US release poster
Directed byCavalcanti ("Christmas Party" and "The Ventriloquist's Dummy")
Charles Crichton ("Golfing Story")
Basil Dearden ("Hearse Driver" and "Linking Narrative")
Robert Hamer ("The Haunted Mirror")
Produced byMichael Balcon
Written byH.G. Wells (original story)
E.F. Benson (original story)
John Baines (original story and screenplay)
Angus MacPhail (original story and screenplay)
StarringMichael Redgrave
Mervyn Johns
Frederick Valk
Roland Culver
Music byGeorges Auric
London Philharmonic Orchestra
CinematographyJack Parker
Stanley Pavey
Douglas Slocombe
Edited byCharles Hasse
Distributed byEagle-Lion Distributors Limited (UK)
Universal Pictures (US)
Release dates4 September 1945 (UK)
28 June 1946 (USA)
Running time102 min.
CountryUnited Kingdom
LanguageEnglish

Dead of Night (1945) is a British portmanteau horror film (a gothic or horror anthology) made by Ealing Studios; the individual stories were directed by Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden and Robert Hamer. The film stars Mervyn Johns, Googie Withers and Michael Redgrave. The film is probably best-remembered for the ventriloquist's dummy episode with Redgrave.

Dead of Night stands out from British film of the 1940s, when few horror films were being produced in the country (horror films had been banned from production in Britain during the war), and it had an influence on subsequent British films in the genre. Both of the segments by John Baines were recycled for later films, and the possessed ventriloquist dummy episode was adapted as the audition episode of the long-running CBS radio series Escape.

Plot[edit]

Architect Walter Craig (Mervyn Johns) arrives at a country house party where he reveals to the assembled guests that he has seen them all in a dream. He appears to have no prior personal knowledge of them but he is able to predict spontaneous events in the house before they unfold. The other guests attempt to test Craig's foresight, while entertaining each other with various tales of uncanny or supernatural events that they experienced or were told about. These include a racing car driver's premonition of a fatal bus crash; a light-hearted tale of two obsessed golfers, one of whom becomes haunted by the other's ghost; a ghostly encounter during a children's Christmas party (a scene cut from the initial American release); a haunted antique mirror; and the story of an unbalanced ventriloquist (Michael Redgrave) who believes his amoral dummy is truly alive. The framing story is then capped by a twist ending.

Cast[edit]

Linking narrative[edit]

(directed by Basil Dearden)

Hearse Driver sequence[edit]

(directed by Basil Dearden; based (uncredited) on "The Bus-Conductor", a short story by E. F. Benson published in The Pall Mall Magazine in 1906)

Christmas Party sequence[edit]

(directed by Alberto Cavalcanti; story by Angus MacPhail)

Haunted Mirror sequence[edit]

(directed by Robert Hamer; story by John Baines)

Golfing Story sequence[edit]

(directed by Charles Crichton; story based (uncredited) on a story by H.G. Wells)

Ventriloquist's Dummy sequence[edit]

(directed by Alberto Cavalcanti; story by John Baines)

Legacy[edit]

The circular plot of Dead of Night inspired Fred Hoyle's Steady State model of the universe, developed in 1948.[1]

Dead of Night also currently holds a 96% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

In the early 2010s, Time Out conducted a poll with several authors, directors, actors and critics who have worked within the horror genre to vote for their top horror films.[2] Dead of Night placed at number 35 on their top 100 list.[3] Director Martin Scorsese placed Dead of Night on his list of the 11 scariest horror films of all time.[4] Writer/Director Christopher Smith was inspired by the circular narrative in Dead of Night when making his 2009 film Triangle.[5]

Related[edit]

The theme of a recurring nightmare has been visited in other works and media:

The theme of the mad ventriloquist has been visited in other works and media:

The theme of the fatal crash premonition has also been visited in other works and media:

The theme of a mirror casting a murderous spell has been visited in other works and media:

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Jane Gregory, Fred Hoyle's Universe, Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-19-850791-7, pp.36–7
  2. ^ "The 100 best horror films". Time Out. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  3. ^ NF. "The 100 best horror films: the list". Time Out. Retrieved April 13, 2014. 
  4. ^ Scorsese, Martin (28 October 2009). "11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 15 November 2009. 
  5. ^ "Director Chris Smith on Triangle". Retrieved 14 November 2012. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]