The Night of Nights (1939)

85 mins | Melodrama | 1 December 1939

Director:

Lewis Milestone

Producer:

George M. Arthur

Cinematographer:

Leo Tover

Production Designers:

Hans Dreier, Ernst Fegte

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working titles of this film were Happy Ending and Heaven on a Shoestring . According to a news item in HR , Paramount constructed a $3,000 revolving stage to be used for the montage shots in this film. Although onscreen credits list Doane Harrison as film editor, the MPH review credits Hugh Bennett as ... More Less

The working titles of this film were Happy Ending and Heaven on a Shoestring . According to a news item in HR , Paramount constructed a $3,000 revolving stage to be used for the montage shots in this film. Although onscreen credits list Doane Harrison as film editor, the MPH review credits Hugh Bennett as editor. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
22 Nov 39
p. 3.
Film Daily
2 Jan 40
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 39
pp. 6-7.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 39
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 May 39
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 39
p. 3.
Motion Picture Daily
27 Nov 39
p. 10.
Motion Picture Herald
24 Jun 39
p. 47.
Motion Picture Herald
25 Nov 39
p. 40.
New York Times
28 Dec 39
p. 17.
Variety
29 Nov 39
p. 14.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
Orig scr, Orig scr
PHOTOGRAPHY
Photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus score
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Heaven on a Shoestring
Happy Ending
Release Date:
1 December 1939
Production Date:
began 5 April 1939
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
1 December 1939
Copyright Number:
LP9266
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
85
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
PCA No:
5346
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

Dan O'Farrell and Barry Keith Trimble, two actors, prepare for the opening night of Laughter , a new play written by Dan, by getting drunk at the Lambs Club. By the time they go on stage, they are still not sober, and end up brawling and falling in the orchestra pit. They continue drinking, returning to the Club and laughing hysterically until they are suspended. Dan simultaneously learns that his wife, actress Alyce Martelle, is pregnant and that she has left him for ruining his play. Twenty years later, Dan is still sitting at a table in the club, his ambition deadened by the knowledge of his own failure. He is supported by Barry, who has married into wealth and retired. In the interval, a former Lambs Club waiter, Michael Fordkin, now known as J. Neville Prime, has become the leading Broadway producer, employing Sammy Kayne, Dan's former stagehand. Dan faints upon learning of the existence of his daughter Marie Alyce, who was given over to a French convent upon the death of her mother in childbirth. Dan nervously meets Marie at the train station, but is supported by Sammy, Neville and especially Barry, who rents a lavish room for her. Marie, who is the image of her mother, is soon asked by Dan to recite the lines Alyce was to have said in Laughter . Believing he is an unworthy father, Dan urges Marie to take advantage of an opportunity to study art in Paris. Dan orders Barry to put Marie on the ship to France, but is surprised to find them waiting in his small ... +


Dan O'Farrell and Barry Keith Trimble, two actors, prepare for the opening night of Laughter , a new play written by Dan, by getting drunk at the Lambs Club. By the time they go on stage, they are still not sober, and end up brawling and falling in the orchestra pit. They continue drinking, returning to the Club and laughing hysterically until they are suspended. Dan simultaneously learns that his wife, actress Alyce Martelle, is pregnant and that she has left him for ruining his play. Twenty years later, Dan is still sitting at a table in the club, his ambition deadened by the knowledge of his own failure. He is supported by Barry, who has married into wealth and retired. In the interval, a former Lambs Club waiter, Michael Fordkin, now known as J. Neville Prime, has become the leading Broadway producer, employing Sammy Kayne, Dan's former stagehand. Dan faints upon learning of the existence of his daughter Marie Alyce, who was given over to a French convent upon the death of her mother in childbirth. Dan nervously meets Marie at the train station, but is supported by Sammy, Neville and especially Barry, who rents a lavish room for her. Marie, who is the image of her mother, is soon asked by Dan to recite the lines Alyce was to have said in Laughter . Believing he is an unworthy father, Dan urges Marie to take advantage of an opportunity to study art in Paris. Dan orders Barry to put Marie on the ship to France, but is surprised to find them waiting in his small apartment later that night. Marie tells Dan, who has wanted to die for fifteen years, that Alyce would have forgiven him. He suddenly decides to restage Laughter with the original cast, but with Marie substituting for Alyce in the part of Toni. After long rehearsals, Dan becomes ill, but continues in his role of the clown. Marie convinces him to change the play to have a happy ending, with Toni reuniting with the clown, rather than have the clown commit suicide over her departure. The play is an enormous success by the conclusion of the second act. After Dan's final scene, he has a heart attack, believes he hears Alyce, and goes to his dressing room to be with her. As the play ends, Dan dies, but Alyce lives on in Marie as Dan's friends drink to the fulfillment of his hopes. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.