Nightfall (1956)

Dir. Jacques Tourneur. Aldo Ray is Jim, a freelance commercial artist with a secret. Laying low in Los Angeles, he makes friends with fellow lonely soul Maire (Anne Bancroft), when circumstances conspire to complicate both of their lives. A charming noir mystery, relying heavily on flashback to reveal a series of narrative altering turns. Aldo Ray is a great casting as the “everyman” caught up in conspiracy, especially with his gruff voice and football line-backer physique, which can lead one to some false assumptions about Jim’s true character. Anne Bancroft is superb and delivers a naturalistic and touching performance as the equally mysterious Marie. The Coen Brothers 1996 film Fargo appears inspired by Nightfall’s excellent use of stark natural landscapes as a setting for suspense, and the threat of violence. Jacques Tourneur has demonstrated impeccable taste in costume design in his other films, including Cat People (1942), but Nightfall has perhaps the most fun, with Anne Bancroft nervously skipping her way through a department store fashion parade, as the underworld forces close in.

By Nicholas Hudson-Ellis

Co-Founder & Film Programs Manager of Bangkok Screening Room.

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