Sunday, January 27, 2013
Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948)
This is unusual for a Woolrich story in that it involves elements of the occult, or at least the paranormal, combined with Woolrich’s trademark dark twisted atmosphere.
John Triton (Edward G. Robinson) had been a stage mentalist, and a very good one. His mind-reading act was of course faked, but he took pride in the cleverness of the fakery. Added to his showmanship this made the act quite successful. And then one day he unexpectedly found himself interrupting his performance to tell a woman to rush home because her little boy was in danger. Triton didn’t really know why he said this, all he knew is that he got a sudden image in his mind.
Triton’s prophetic powers soon turn out to be very financially lucrative. But Triton is troubled by these powers. He has the odd feeling that he is making these events occur, a theory he puts to the test with tragic results.
Of course the police are sceptical of Triton’s story. Detective-Lieutenant Shawn (William Demarest) is convinced he is not only a charlatan but possibly something much worse. Jenny’s boyfriend is also suspicious and hostile but Jenny remembers her father saying that Triton’s powers were real and that Triton was a good man. Triton will face his greatest challenge in trying to prove his own prediction wring by saving Jenny’s life, if he can.
Edward G. Robinson is as reliable as ever. The supporting cast is fine but it’s Robinson who carries the picture. Triton is a man who has what appears to be a great gift but it turns out to be a curse. Seeing the future can be a very unpleasant experience, especially when the visions concern people he loves.
Night Has a Thousand Eyes is a definite film noir oddity. It’s a movie that may not appeal to everybody (noir purists may be put off by the occult elements) but I found it to be highly entertaining and (thanks to Robinson’s sensitive performance) rather moving. Highly recommended.
This has been for many years a very difficult movie to get hold of. The only DVD I was able to find is an Italian release from a company called A&R which fortunately includes the original English soundtrack as well as an Italian dubbed version. Picture and sound quality are not great but they’re acceptable and even with these reservations the Italian DVD is worth grabbing because of the quality of the movie itself.