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Dead of Night Movie Review

driver michael “the basil

For those who believe that Hell may mean repeating your earthly mistakes over and over again with one agonizing moment of realization every time that THIS is to be your fate for the rest of eternity, Dead of Night is one very scary flick, best seen with lots of friends who won't leave you alone afterward. Mervyn Johns plays an architect who wakes up after a nightmare and then goes to a farmhouse where he has an appointment. He thinks he's seen it before! The guests then tell scary stories to each other. A race car driver tells the story of his dream about a hearse driver who has room for one more. When he later hears a bus driver say the same thing, he refuses to get on and watches in horror as the bus crashes right afterward. Then a young girl (Sally Ann Howes) tells about a Christmas party where she runs into a little boy named Francis, the brother of Constance Kent, who was accused of his murder in 1860. This Alberto Cavalcanti entry is followed by John Baines’ “The Haunted Mirror” (directed by Robert Hamer), in which a young wife watches as her new husband is nearly driven mad by an antique mirror that takes over his personality. Basil Radford and Naunton Wayne then provide comedy relief in H.G. Wells’ “The Inexperienced Ghost” (directed by Charles Crichton), about two golfers who both want the same girl. It's a trifle, but a welcome one. The tension would have been nearly unbearable if we'd gone straight from the “The Haunted Mirror” into Cavalcanti's justly famous “Ventriloquist's Dummy” (starring Michael Redgrave) and then back to the chilling story of the nightmare-ridden architect. Dead of Night has a cumulative effect. It lulls us with sly humor, then makes the hair stand up on the back of our necks with sheer terror. The linking story and the hearse driver dream are based on the E.F. Benson stories “Room in the Tower” and “The Bus Conductor” and are both directed by Basil Dearden. Ealing forever, and not only for comedies!

1945 102m/B GB Michael Redgrave, Sally Ann Howes, Basil Radford, Naunton Wayne, Mervyn Johns, Roland Culver, Googie Withers, Frederick Valk, Antony Baird, Judy Kelly, Miles Malleson, Ralph Michael, Mary Merrall, Renee Gadd, Michael Allan, Robert Wyndham, Esme Percy, Peggy Bryan, Hartley Power, Elizabeth Welch, Magda Kun, Carry Marsh; D: Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer; W: T.E.B. Clarke, John Baines, Angus MacPhail; C: Jack Parker, H. Julius; M: Georges Auric. VHS

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