Wednesday 1 July 2020

Nothing But the Night - 1973 film review

Nothing But the Night is a curious film with a first-class pedigree and an outstanding cast. It's fair to say that the whole is less than the sum of its considerable parts, but I found it watchable and interesting, despite several significant flaws. It's a film that spans more than one genre: crime, sci-fi, and horror all play a part. Overall, though (and I'm trying to avoid spoilers here), it would be a stretch to describe it as a crime film.

The stars are Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, two actors who were never less than watchable. In fact, this was the film that Lee made just before The Wicker Man, and there's one scene which has slight Wicker Man aspects to it, although this movie doesn't compare in quality to Anthony Shaffer's classic. Lee here plays a retired senior cop called Bingham, who is convinced that there is a connection between three recent deaths.

Those deaths get the film off to a dramatic start. They are all incidents which are designed to appear as accidents, but the viewer knows from the start that they are murders. It turns out that all three victims are trustees of an orphanage on a Scottish island. In fact, when I first saw a brief synopsis of this film, I did wonder if the story might bear a resemblance to Gallows Court. It's always irritating when you come up with an idea, and then find someone else had the same notion years earlier! But I needn't have worried. Suffice to say that it is a very, very different sort of story.

The script was written by Bryan Hayles, who was an accomplished exponent of sci-i, and based on a novel by John Blackburn, whose work did span several genres. The cast includes Keith Barron, Georgia Brown (better known perhaps as a singer), Diana Dors (a very over-the-top performance), Fulton McKay, and a young Michael Gambon. The soundtrack was written by Malcolm Williamson, later the Master of the Queen's Music. With all that talent involved, one would have hoped for a less uneven film than this, but it's not bad entertainment. 

1 comment:

Steve said...

Thanks for this review, Martin. I enjoyed so much that it inspired me to track down a copy of it to watch myself.

Here's my report on what I saw:

All the best