Nightmare (1956)

89 mins | Drama | June 1956

Director:

Maxwell Shane

Writer:

Maxwell Shane

Cinematographer:

Joseph Biroc

Editor:

George Gittens

Production Designer:

F. Paul Sylos

Production Company:

P.T.S. Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

Maxwell Shane's credit reads: "Written for the screen and directed by." The film was shot on location in New Orleans, LA. Although the onscreen credits read "Based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich," "Nightmare" was a short story first published in Argosy Magazine in 1941 as "And So to Death" and written by Woolrich under the pseudonym William Irish. The story was retitled "Nightmare" in Woolrich's 1943 collection I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes and was purchased by Pine-Thomas in 1945. Pine-Thomas went on to produce a film based on the material that was released under the title Fear in the Night and released by Paramount in 1947 (see above). That film starred Paul Kelly and DeForest Kelley and was also adapted and directed by Shane. Although the NYT review states that band leader Billy May appeared in Nightmare as a character named "Louis Simes," May appeared as himself. ... More Less

Maxwell Shane's credit reads: "Written for the screen and directed by." The film was shot on location in New Orleans, LA. Although the onscreen credits read "Based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich," "Nightmare" was a short story first published in Argosy Magazine in 1941 as "And So to Death" and written by Woolrich under the pseudonym William Irish. The story was retitled "Nightmare" in Woolrich's 1943 collection I Wouldn't Be in Your Shoes and was purchased by Pine-Thomas in 1945. Pine-Thomas went on to produce a film based on the material that was released under the title Fear in the Night and released by Paramount in 1947 (see above). That film starred Paul Kelly and DeForest Kelley and was also adapted and directed by Shane. Although the NYT review states that band leader Billy May appeared in Nightmare as a character named "Louis Simes," May appeared as himself. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
19 May 1956.
---
Daily Variety
16 Feb 1945.
---
Daily Variety
17 Dec 1945.
---
Daily Variety
7 Oct 1955.
---
Daily Variety
11 May 56
p. 3.
Film Calendar
18 Feb 1946.
---
Film Daily
17 May 56
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Oct 1955.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Oct 1955
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Oct 1955
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Nov 1955
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
11 May 56
p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
19 May 56
p. 898.
New York Times
12 May 56
p. 12.
Variety
16 May 56
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Pine-Thomas-Shane Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
Wrt for the screen by
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward
MUSIC
Mus comp and dir
Vocal and instrumental arr
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Scr supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the short story "And So to Death" by Cornell Woolrich in Argosy (1 Mar 1941).
SONGS
"What's Your Sad Story," words and music by Dick Sherman
"The Last I Ever Saw My Man," words by Doris Houck, music by Herschel Burke Gilbert.
DETAILS
Release Date:
June 1956
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 11 May 1956
Production Date:
late October--late November 1955
Copyright Claimant:
P. T. S. Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 May 1956
Copyright Number:
LP6698
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
1.85:1
Duration(in mins):
89
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
17835
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In New Orleans, jazz musician Stan Grayson experiences a nightmare in which he is tormented by an unfamiliar woman’s face reflected in a strange room full of mirrors. As a weird melody repeats, a man attempts to break into a safe and when he sees Stan, he attempts to strangle him. The woman hands Stan an unfamiliar sharp object with which he stabs the man and then pulls the body into a closet behind one of the mirrors. Stan then falls down a gaping, black tunnel and awakens with a start. Relieved to realize he has been dreaming, Stan rises, late for an appointment to record several numbers with Billy May, his orchestra and Stan’s girl friend, singer Gina. In the bathroom mirror, however, Stan is startled to see dark bruises around his neck and notices a cut on his arm for which he has no explanation. On his dresser Stan then finds an unfamiliar button and an unfamiliar key. Anxious that his nightmare may be true, Stan calls in sick to Billy and hastens to his sister Sue’s house to speak with his brother-in-law, police detective Rene Bressard. After relating the details of his nightmare to Rene and showing him the button and key, Stan is disappointed when Rene remains unimpressed, pointing out that Stan is normally high strung and has a tendency to drink, which likely stimulated the odd dream. Over the next four days Stan anxiously scans the newspapers for murder reports, but finds nothing. Frustrated by the odd melody and images that continue to haunt him, Stan continues to avoid work and Gina, ... +


In New Orleans, jazz musician Stan Grayson experiences a nightmare in which he is tormented by an unfamiliar woman’s face reflected in a strange room full of mirrors. As a weird melody repeats, a man attempts to break into a safe and when he sees Stan, he attempts to strangle him. The woman hands Stan an unfamiliar sharp object with which he stabs the man and then pulls the body into a closet behind one of the mirrors. Stan then falls down a gaping, black tunnel and awakens with a start. Relieved to realize he has been dreaming, Stan rises, late for an appointment to record several numbers with Billy May, his orchestra and Stan’s girl friend, singer Gina. In the bathroom mirror, however, Stan is startled to see dark bruises around his neck and notices a cut on his arm for which he has no explanation. On his dresser Stan then finds an unfamiliar button and an unfamiliar key. Anxious that his nightmare may be true, Stan calls in sick to Billy and hastens to his sister Sue’s house to speak with his brother-in-law, police detective Rene Bressard. After relating the details of his nightmare to Rene and showing him the button and key, Stan is disappointed when Rene remains unimpressed, pointing out that Stan is normally high strung and has a tendency to drink, which likely stimulated the odd dream. Over the next four days Stan anxiously scans the newspapers for murder reports, but finds nothing. Frustrated by the odd melody and images that continue to haunt him, Stan continues to avoid work and Gina, and makes futile efforts to identify the song and the faces in the dream. Rene visits Stan and insists he come on a picnic to celebrate Sue’s birthday. Stan reluctantly agrees, but is dismayed to find Gina has also been invited. Stan then suggests that the picnic be held at an unfamiliar park, but when questioned does not know why he made the recommendation. A thunderstorm starts suddenly, terrifying Sue and the group returns to the car. When the windshield wipers get stuck, making it difficult for Rene to see, Stan gives him directions to a nearby large house. Discovering that no one is home, Stan checks a potted plant near the door and finds a key. Although the house is unoccupied, Rene discovers the gas fireplace functions and calms the distracted Sue. Gina turns on a record player and as the record begins playing sluggishly, Stan is startled to recognize the strange, distorted tune from his nightmare. Alarmed by his inexplicable familiarity with the house, Stan impulsively begins to explore it and is horrified to find a large, mirrored dressing room that matches his dream. Using the key he has carried to unlock one of the closet doors, Stan finds a safe with burned edges. Rene has followed Stan and when the men open another closet, they find bloodstains on a wall. Rene angrily questions Stan, believing his brother-in-law has committed a crime and is trying to avoid responsibility for it. The men are interrupted by the arrival of local deputy Torrence, who reveals a murder occurred in the house recently and he has been assigned to watch the premises. After identifying himself as a police officer, Rene asks to meet with Torrence’s superior, Capt. Warner, and learns that the home belongs to a wealthy couple, the Belnaps. Warner reveals that the police discovered that while Louis Belnap was out of town, Mrs. Belnap was run over by a car apparently driven by her boyfriend, who then fled. Mrs. Belnap survived long enough to ask if her boyfriend had survived, provoking a further investigation and the discovery of the boyfriend’s body in a closet. When Warner shows Rene and Stan photos of the victims, Stan recognizes them and faints. After Stan recovers, Rene takes him to his hotel room. Rene then offers to let Stan run away, but declares he will arrest him if he is still there the following morning. After Rene departs, Stan, certain that he is responsible for the murder of Mrs. Belnap and her boyfriend, crawls out on the window ledge but cannot bring himself to throw himself off. As Rene walks out onto the street far below, he notices a crowd gathering and, seeing Stan, hastily returns and pulls him off the ledge. Rene stays with Stan overnight and encourages him to recall the events leading up to his dream. After Stan describes his day and evening, Rene immediately becomes suspicious of Stan’s neighbor, Harry Britton, who made contact with Stan numerous times. Remembering that many of the books from the Belnap house focused on psychology and hypnosis, Rene impulsively returns to the house and obtains a photo of Mr. Belnap. When Rene shows the photo to Stan, he is stunned to recognize Britton. Rene confides his belief that Belnap, masquerading as Britton, had found Stan highly susceptible to suggestion, and so, after hypnotizing him, instructed him to commit murder. Learning from Warner that Belnap is returning home that night, Rene urges Stan to help him prove his suspicions. Stan agrees and that night waits in the mirrored dressing room. When Belnap appears to examine the safe, Stan confronts him, demanding an explanation for his dream. Perplexed that his earlier hypnotic suggestion has worn off, Belnap admits that he used Stan to get rid of his wife and her lover. Unaware that Rene has wired Stan and is recording the confession, Belnap details the crime, then re-hypnotizes Stan and leads him out of the house down to the lake. Warner, Torrence and Rene rescue Stan from the water, and when Belnap flees, Warner shoots him. With Belnap’s confession on tape, Stan is exonerated and he returns to the band and Gina. +

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.