Sunday, September 02, 2018

Tonight's Movie: This Could Be the Night (1957) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Jean Simmons plays a teacher who takes a second job at a nightclub in THIS COULD BE THE NIGHT (1957), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

I thought this film, directed by the great Robert Wise and filmed in crisp black and white by Russell Harlan, was quite a delightful treat. I thoroughly enjoyed it and was sorry when it ended and I had to say goodbye to the film's unique assortment of characters.

Simmons plays Anne Leeds, who's recently graduated from college in Massachusetts and taken as job as a schoolteacher in New York City. Needing a higher income, she takes a second job working nights at a nightclub owned by Rocco (Paul Douglas) and Tony (Anthony Franciosa). (Given her schedule, I wondered when she would ever have time to correct school papers!) Rocco and Tony both spend quite a bit of time fretting about the virtue of this very nice young woman in the midst of their slightly seedy nightclub.

Before long Anne is wrapped up in the lives of everyone in the place, helping kooky dancer Patsy (Neile Adams) enter a cooking contest and win a stove, while also making sure busboy Hussein (Rafael Campos) passes algebra; meanwhile, eccentric regular customer Stowe Devlin (Tom Helmore) starts eating his meals in Anne's office.

Rocco has a bit of a crush on Anne, but she only has eyes for Tony, who's not the marrying kind -- but who is shaken to his core when he trades some passionate kisses with Anne. Anne resigns when Tony says he's not in love with her, but soon he's turning up at her school and at her new night job, certain that she needs his protection -- and clearly feeling things for Anne he can't verbalize.

The characters at the nightclub also include bandleader Ray Anthony (as himself), curvy singer Ivy Corlane (Julie Wilson), Patsy's mother Crystal (Joan Blondell), and Leon, the chef (J. Carrol Naish). It's great fun seeing how Anne is absorbed into this ersatz family; one might think they would all be suspicious of the "college girl" but to a person they are charmed by her direct and friendly manner.

Simmons and Franciosa have terrific chemistry, particularly in the scene where she visits his apartment. I was a bit surprised when the movie ended without a definite conclusion to their storyline, but then again that was part of the movie's offbeat charm. There was definitely an "all's right with the world" feeling with the ending and the assumption that their relationship will go forward, even if it's not shown.

THIS COULD BE THE NIGHT runs 104 well-paced minutes. The screenplay was by the reliable Isobel Lennart, who turned out engaging scripts for MGM for the better part of two decades; it was based on short stories by Cornelia Baird Gross. The supporting cast includes Frank Ferguson and Zasu Pitts as Anne's landlords.

THIS COULD BE THE NIGHT is a beautiful widescreen print. I did find the sound a bit muffled at times; given the nightclub setting, there's constant noise and music in the background and the sound balancing could have been better in some scenes, especially given the leading lady's British accent. The disc includes the trailer.

Recommended.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

4 Comments:

Blogger mel said...

Thank you for your recommendation, Laura - I have a copy but according to my IMDb watch list I haven't seen it yet (I have so many of them)... It will be my next movie to watch.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Brittaney said...

I just saw this one for the first time this year and was also pleasantly surprised. In fact, I loved it's quirky charm and ambiguous ending. It now sits on my list of films I want to purchase.

10:30 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

It's true. There is an entire universe in that club that I hated to leave.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Mel, really hope you enjoy it (or perhaps you have already!). Would love to know what you think when you get to it.

Brittaney, great to hear that this was also a recent discovery for you. Love when I catch up with a movie and it's so satisfying; glad it hit you the same way.

Caftan Woman, great description. I'm already looking forward to my next visit to the club! :)

Best wishes,
Laura

12:11 AM  

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