A NIGHT OF MAGIC (1944)
Article 3154 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 1-31-2010
Posting Date: 4-3-2010
Directed by Herbert Wynne
Featuring Robert Griffith, Marian Olive, Gordon Ray
What it is: Sheer horror/fluffy British musical
A man receives a sarcophagus with a three thousand year old mummy from his uncle. However, the mummy is very much alive, female, and thrilled to find a man after all those years.
This revue musical is such a piece of fluff that I probably wouldn’t much like it even if it was good. However, such is not the case; the movie is, in a word, ghastly. If anything, it made me realize just how difficult it is to whip up a piece of fluff; you need smoothness, confidence, and a show of effortlessness. Every second of this movie feels forced, static, self-conscious and awkward; every joke falls flat, every dance feels under-rehearsed, etc. The writing is truly wretched; it’s one of those movies where you can see what the writer was trying for while being made exquisitely aware that it failed to accomplish its task. What is most surprising of all is the horrible acting; usually, the one thing you can guarantee in a British film is that the acting will be solid, but not this one. The two leads in particular are awful; the leading man couldn’t project an emotion if he had one, and the leading lady’s face seems cemented in a toothy smile that conjures up images of Gwynplaine in THE MAN WHO LAUGHS. This may be one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. By the way, I’m going to give away the ending; it turns out that it is all a dream. For once, this type of ending is welcome, because not only can you then dismiss the whole thing as a nightmare, but take heart that the movie is over.