The Long Night (1947)

97 or 101 mins | Drama | 6 August 1947

Director:

Anatole Litvak

Writer:

John Wexley

Cinematographer:

Sol Polito

Editor:

Robert Swink

Production Designer:

Eugene Lourie

Production Company:

Select Productions, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of this film was A Time to Kill . The opening credits conclude with the following quotation: "'...The night is long/That never finds the day...'William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act IV, Scene III." An offscreen narrator, as well as stock footage of industrial cities opens the story, placing it in the Ohio-Pennsylvania area. Henry Fonda, as the character "Joe Adams," then provides intermittent, offscreen narration throughout the film as does Barbara Bel Geddes as “Jo Ann.” According to an Aug 1946 HR news item, the Hakim brothers purchased Le jour se leve , ( Daybreak ), the 1939 French film on which The Long Night is based, in the spring of 1945. The internationally popular picture was directed by Marcel Carne and starred Jean Gabin, Jules Berry and Arletty.
       Barbara Bel Geddes (1922--2005), the daughter of noted theatrical producer Norman Bel Geddes, made her screen debut in The Long Night . According to studio press material, director Anatole Litvak cast Bel Geddes after seeing her on Broadway in the play Deep Are the Roots . Bel Geddes subsequently signed a seven-year contract with RKO. Although the actress made a number of films, she became best known for her work on the Broadway stage and for her role as "Miss Ellie Ewing" on the long-running television series Dallas . The Long Night also marked Litvak's return to filmmaking after several years of overseas Army service. RKO borrowed Vincent Price from Twentieth Century-Fox for the production. According to a HR news item, painter Howard Warshaw was to ... More Less

The working title of this film was A Time to Kill . The opening credits conclude with the following quotation: "'...The night is long/That never finds the day...'William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act IV, Scene III." An offscreen narrator, as well as stock footage of industrial cities opens the story, placing it in the Ohio-Pennsylvania area. Henry Fonda, as the character "Joe Adams," then provides intermittent, offscreen narration throughout the film as does Barbara Bel Geddes as “Jo Ann.” According to an Aug 1946 HR news item, the Hakim brothers purchased Le jour se leve , ( Daybreak ), the 1939 French film on which The Long Night is based, in the spring of 1945. The internationally popular picture was directed by Marcel Carne and starred Jean Gabin, Jules Berry and Arletty.
       Barbara Bel Geddes (1922--2005), the daughter of noted theatrical producer Norman Bel Geddes, made her screen debut in The Long Night . According to studio press material, director Anatole Litvak cast Bel Geddes after seeing her on Broadway in the play Deep Are the Roots . Bel Geddes subsequently signed a seven-year contract with RKO. Although the actress made a number of films, she became best known for her work on the Broadway stage and for her role as "Miss Ellie Ewing" on the long-running television series Dallas . The Long Night also marked Litvak's return to filmmaking after several years of overseas Army service. RKO borrowed Vincent Price from Twentieth Century-Fox for the production. According to a HR news item, painter Howard Warshaw was to make "on-the-set sketches" for the film's "advertising art." HR announced in late Sep 1946 that Manny Harman and his orchestra were signed for the picture, but their participation in the completed film has not been confirmed. In Jul 1947, HR announced that Dimitri Tiomkin and Ned Washington had completed music and lyrics for the film's theme song, titled "The Long Night," but the song was not listed onscreen. A recurring musical motif heard throughout the story while Joe paces in his room is from the second movement of Beethoven’s 7th Symphony. RKO planned an elaborate publicity "event" for the film's New England showings, in which William Courtney, the lawyer who prosecuted Al Capone, and Herbert L. Callahan, a prominent defense attorney, were to try a mock case, similar to the one depicted in the film. According to modern sources, the film lost $1,000,000 at the box office. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
7 Jun 1947.
---
Daily Variety
28 May 1947.
---
Film Daily
28 May 1947
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
22 May 1946
p. 1, 15.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Aug 1946
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Aug 1946
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Aug 1946
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Aug 1946
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Sep 1946
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Sep 1946
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Sep 1946
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1946
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Dec 1946
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 1947
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Jul 1947
p. 17, 37.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
31 May 1947.
---
New York Times
17 Sep 1947
p. 31.
Variety
28 May 1947
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
An Anatole Litvak Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Des of the cost
MUSIC
Mus comp and dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod asst
Pub
Unit pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the French film Le Jour se leve written by Jacques Viot (Sigma, 1939).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
A Time to Kill
Release Date:
6 August 1947
Production Date:
26 August--9 December 1946
Copyright Claimant:
Select Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
6 August 1947
Copyright Number:
LP1179
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
97 or 101
Length(in feet):
9,116
Country:
United States
SYNOPSIS

In an Ohio mill town, blind veteran Frank Dunlap is walking up to his tenement apartment when a wounded man tumbles down the stairs and dies at his feet. Soon after arriving on the scene, the police deduce that the man, Maximilian, must have been shot on the top floor, in a room occupied by Joe Adams. When they try to question Joe, however, he fires a shot through his door and refuses to talk. Ned Meade, a no-nonsense sheriff, orders his men to position themselves in a hotel room directly across the street so that they can shoot at Joe from the window. As the police open fire, Joe avoids the window and begins to recall the events that led him to commit murder: One day, while working as a sandblaster, Joe, a recently discharged veteran, meets Jo Ann, a sweet young woman from a flower shop. Joe flirts with Jo Ann and learns that she grew up in the same orphanage as he and now lives with an older couple who own the flower shop. Joe begins dating Jo Ann, with whom he feels a close bond, and three weeks later, deeply in love, proposes to her. Jo Ann is unsure about her feelings for Joe, however, and declines to give him an answer. Suspicious, Joe follows her to a nightclub, where magician Maximilian the Great is performing his dog and magic act. As an entranced Jo Ann watches Max from her table, Charlene, known as “Charlie,” who has just quit her job as Max's assistant, strikes up a conversation with Joe. After the embittered but resigned ... +


In an Ohio mill town, blind veteran Frank Dunlap is walking up to his tenement apartment when a wounded man tumbles down the stairs and dies at his feet. Soon after arriving on the scene, the police deduce that the man, Maximilian, must have been shot on the top floor, in a room occupied by Joe Adams. When they try to question Joe, however, he fires a shot through his door and refuses to talk. Ned Meade, a no-nonsense sheriff, orders his men to position themselves in a hotel room directly across the street so that they can shoot at Joe from the window. As the police open fire, Joe avoids the window and begins to recall the events that led him to commit murder: One day, while working as a sandblaster, Joe, a recently discharged veteran, meets Jo Ann, a sweet young woman from a flower shop. Joe flirts with Jo Ann and learns that she grew up in the same orphanage as he and now lives with an older couple who own the flower shop. Joe begins dating Jo Ann, with whom he feels a close bond, and three weeks later, deeply in love, proposes to her. Jo Ann is unsure about her feelings for Joe, however, and declines to give him an answer. Suspicious, Joe follows her to a nightclub, where magician Maximilian the Great is performing his dog and magic act. As an entranced Jo Ann watches Max from her table, Charlene, known as “Charlie,” who has just quit her job as Max's assistant, strikes up a conversation with Joe. After the embittered but resigned Charlie tells Joe that Max is a sadistic fraud, the middle-aged Max sends Jo Ann to his private table, then attempts to convince Charlie to return to the act. Angered by Max’s patronizing attitude toward Charlie, Joe comes to her defense. Back in the present, as a crowd gathers outside Joe’s apartment building, Bill Pulanski, Joe's next-door neighbor, begs for a chance to talk to Joe, but Chief of Police Bob McManus refuses. Charlie, too, asks to speak with Joe, but is forcibly kept away. McManus’ men then shoot through Joe's door lock, but Joe blocks the door with his dresser before they can enter. After Meade orders that tear gas be brought in, Joe returns to his recollections: Joe is visiting Charlie, who has fallen in love with him, when Max shows up, anxious to talk to him. Max informs Joe that he is Jo Ann's long-lost father and cautions him to stay away from her, as he feels that Joe will tie her to a "life of drudgery." Indignant, Joe tells Max that he is marrying Jo Ann and goes to see her. When Joe states that he knows Max is her father, Jo Ann is stunned and insists that they are not related. Jo Ann then tells Joe how she met Max months before: While watching Max perform one night, the lonely, insecure Jo Ann is selected to participate in a portion of the act. Jo Ann is both frightened and excited by the charismatic magician and, a few days later, attends a concert with him. Afterward, Max insists that he and Jo Ann are soulmates and are destined to become lifelong "companions." When Max later tries to force himself on her, however, Jo Ann slaps him, then runs home. Despite her anger, Jo Ann finds she is drawn to Max and after he sends her a dress he claims he bought for his sister, she sees him twice more before he departs for his winter tour. During Max’s absence, Jo Ann meets Joe. After Jo Ann concludes her story, she assures Joe that she loves him and gives him a special Aztec brooch as a token. Later, however, as Joe is saying goodbye to Charlie, he sees a cardboard sheet with several of the Aztec brooches that Charlie explains Max gives to young women he likes. Seeing Joe's pained reaction, Charlie deduces that he is in love with Jo Ann and knowing of Max’s involvement with the younger woman, unwittingly laughs. Back at Joe’s apartment in the present, while deputies bring Jo Ann, McManus talks to Joe over a bullhorn speaker, encouraging him to surrender. Joe comes to the window and refuses to give up, challenging the police and crowd below to "finish him off." When Frank, Bill, Charlie and various neighbors call out their support for Joe, however, he ignores them, turning away from the window. As Jo Ann runs through the crowd, desperate to reach Joe, she is knocked down by a man carrying a bicycle, but is helped up by Bill and Charlie. More police then arrive, and Joe recalls his final meeting with Max: When Max shows up, demanding that Joe stop seeing Jo Ann, an enraged Joe almost throws him out the window. Max calmly reveals that he came intending to shoot Joe, then sees Jo Ann's brooch on Joe's dresser and starts to tease him about it. Unable to endure Max's continuous suggestive taunts, Joe grabs his gun and shoots him. Back outside the apartment, the police start throwing tear gas through Joe's window, just as Jo Ann sneaks up the stairs to his room. After Jo Ann pleads with Joe to believe in himself, as she and his friends do, Joe finally opens his door, and she helps him escape the tear gas. Joe then gives himself up, and Jo Ann vows to wait for him. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

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.