Night Must Fall (1937)

Article #103 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing date: 6-27-2001
Posting date: 11-10-2001
After a strange murder takes place in the vicinity, a young man becomes a companion to an elderly wheelchair-bound woman, much to the chagrin of her repressed niece. Is the man responsible for the murder?

This movie has fine performances in the three central roles; Robert Montgomery (in a change of pace from his usual roles) as the murderer, Rosalind Russell as the niece, and Dame May Whitty as the old woman. Still, I always get a little impatient as I watch this movie, and I start feeling antsy. I think it’s overlong, for one thing. It’s also a little too much of a photographed stage play; the action takes place largely on one set (and the scenes that take us off the set feel unnecessary), and the characters talk your ears off. I don’t care for some of the arty self-conscious poetry the niece spouts on occasion, and as a whole, the movie is way too genteel, as if afraid to offend; considering that a good deal of the plot revolves around a mysterious box that may contain a severed head, I really wish the movie were somewhat less proper. What this movie needs is a good strong dose of Hitchcockian black humor.


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