The Night Visitor (1971)

GP | 102 or 106 mins | Drama | February 1971

Director:

Laslo Benedek

Writer:

Guy Elmes

Producer:

Mel Ferrer

Cinematographer:

Henning Kristiansen

Editor:

Bill Blunden

Production Designer:

P. A. Lundgren

Production Company:

Hemisphere (Panama) Productions
Full page view
HISTORY

The film's working title was Salem Came to Supper , which was also the title of Sam Roecca's original story. The opening cast credits differ slightly in order from the closing credits. Although there is an onscreen copyright notice, the film was not registered for copyright until 7 Jan 1982, when U-M Productions registered it under number PA-167-347. According to a Mar 1970 NYT item, actors Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann were scheduled to appear in a M-G-M production of Man's Fate to be directed by Fred Zinnemann. When that production was canceled, the actors were available to sign for The Night Visitor , which would be shot in Scandinavia by American producers Sidney Glazier and Mel Ferrer and helmed by Swedish director Laslo Benedek.
       Von Sydow and Ullmann had worked together previously on several films, Shame (1968), Hour of the Wolf (1968) and The Passion of Anna (1969, see entries above and below), all Swedish productions written and directed by renowned Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. As noted in the closing credits, The Night Visitor was shot on location in Denmark and Sweden and at the Asa and Laterna Studios in ... More Less

The film's working title was Salem Came to Supper , which was also the title of Sam Roecca's original story. The opening cast credits differ slightly in order from the closing credits. Although there is an onscreen copyright notice, the film was not registered for copyright until 7 Jan 1982, when U-M Productions registered it under number PA-167-347. According to a Mar 1970 NYT item, actors Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann were scheduled to appear in a M-G-M production of Man's Fate to be directed by Fred Zinnemann. When that production was canceled, the actors were available to sign for The Night Visitor , which would be shot in Scandinavia by American producers Sidney Glazier and Mel Ferrer and helmed by Swedish director Laslo Benedek.
       Von Sydow and Ullmann had worked together previously on several films, Shame (1968), Hour of the Wolf (1968) and The Passion of Anna (1969, see entries above and below), all Swedish productions written and directed by renowned Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. As noted in the closing credits, The Night Visitor was shot on location in Denmark and Sweden and at the Asa and Laterna Studios in Copenhagen. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
17 Dec 1970.
---
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1971.
---
Filmfacts
1971
pp. 123-24.
Hollywood Reporter
6 Mar 1970.
---
Hollywood Reporter
11 Feb 1971.
---
Look
23 Feb 1971.
---
Los Angeles Times
9 Apr 1971.
---
New York Times
8 Mar 1970.
---
New York Times
11 Feb 1971
p. 53.
Time
1 Mar 1971.
---
Variety
11 Mar 1970.
---
Variety
3 Feb 1971.
---
Variety
24 Feb 1971
p. 18.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Salem Came to Supper
Release Date:
February 1971
Premiere Information:
World premiere in New York: 10 Feb 1971
Production Date:
Mar 1970 in Denmark, Sweden and the Asa and Laterna Studios, Copenhagen
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Eastman Color
Duration(in mins):
102 or 106
MPAA Rating:
GP
Countries:
Denmark, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

On a winter evening in Scandinavia, Salem, an escaped inmate from a local asylum, runs across the snowy landscape clad only in his underwear, socks and shoes to the isolated, run-down farm he used to own. Pausing by the kitchen window, Salem sees his sister Ester inside arguing with her husband, Dr. Anton Jenks, and Salem’s other sister, Emmie. Salem then climbs up the side of the house and enters Anton’s small private office through the attic window. While Salem rifles through Anton’s medical equipment, he overhears Emmie accusing Anton of mismanaging the farm and staunchly refusing to sell the property. In the attic, Salem takes several morphine ampules and a syringe, a bulky paperweight and one of Anton’s ties. Placing several more ties in Anton’s medical bag, Salem then climbs back out the window and races off into the cold night to the home of his former girl friend, Britt Torens whom he strangles with the tie. Later, Britt’s father contacts Anton to report her death. At the Torenses’ home, after Anton verifies that Britt has been strangled, Mr. Torens is puzzled when he spots the ties in Anton’s bag. The area police inspector arrives with a police physician who confirms the murder was accomplished with a smooth, soft cloth. Back at home, Anton accuses Ester of placing the ties in his bag. Confused, Ester denies the accusation, provoking Anton to then blame Emmie, who he insists is trying to blackmail them. Ester insists that Emmie knows nothing about the fact that two years earlier Anton and Ester framed Salem for the murder of ... +


On a winter evening in Scandinavia, Salem, an escaped inmate from a local asylum, runs across the snowy landscape clad only in his underwear, socks and shoes to the isolated, run-down farm he used to own. Pausing by the kitchen window, Salem sees his sister Ester inside arguing with her husband, Dr. Anton Jenks, and Salem’s other sister, Emmie. Salem then climbs up the side of the house and enters Anton’s small private office through the attic window. While Salem rifles through Anton’s medical equipment, he overhears Emmie accusing Anton of mismanaging the farm and staunchly refusing to sell the property. In the attic, Salem takes several morphine ampules and a syringe, a bulky paperweight and one of Anton’s ties. Placing several more ties in Anton’s medical bag, Salem then climbs back out the window and races off into the cold night to the home of his former girl friend, Britt Torens whom he strangles with the tie. Later, Britt’s father contacts Anton to report her death. At the Torenses’ home, after Anton verifies that Britt has been strangled, Mr. Torens is puzzled when he spots the ties in Anton’s bag. The area police inspector arrives with a police physician who confirms the murder was accomplished with a smooth, soft cloth. Back at home, Anton accuses Ester of placing the ties in his bag. Confused, Ester denies the accusation, provoking Anton to then blame Emmie, who he insists is trying to blackmail them. Ester insists that Emmie knows nothing about the fact that two years earlier Anton and Ester framed Salem for the murder of a drunken farmhand that they committed themselves. Anton points out that the family pet parrot witnessed the murder and several times has mimicked Ester’s encouraging cries to Anton during the murder. When Ester insists that Emmie has no idea about the murder, Anton reveals that he is missing some morphine and intends to search Emmie’s room. Although Emmie is asleep in bed, Anton and Ester creep into her room and look through her dresser until they accidentally knock over a lamp. Puzzled when Emmie does not stir, Anton and Ester discover that the side of her head has been bashed in with Anton’s paperweight. Horrified, Ester rushes out of the room and locks Anton inside before telephoning the police. When Anton’s pleas to Ester go unanswered, Anton turns on the caged parrot who has repeatedly called out “Hit him, Anton.” Hurling the cage to the floor, Anton tries to attack the bird who flutters about before diving into the closet. When Anton follows he is stunned to find Salem hiding there and faints. Concerned by the sudden quiet, Ester returns to find her semi-conscious husband babbling about seeing Salem. Anton then telephones the asylum, but they report that Salem is asleep in his cell. The inspector arrives at the Jenks farm and Anton describes his encounter with Salem. In Anton’s office, the inspector takes one of the ties still in the medical bag while Anton relates that he is missing several morphine ampules. After laboratory tests reveal that the tie contains traces of a mentholated cold rub used by Britt, the inspector’s assistant Carl prepares to write up a warrant for Anton’s arrest, but the inspector considers the evidence too coincidental. Instead, the inspector drives to the isolated asylum where he takes a tour with Dr. Kemp, who demonstrates the impossibility of escape from the fortress-like building. The inspector then meets with Salem, whose cell is decorated with numerous carved figures made by the inmate. When asked about the murders, Salem says Emmie was likely killed by Anton when he discovered she knew about his murder of the farmhand, but offers no suggestion for Britt’s death. Salem cautions the inspector that the next victim will likely be his former defense lawyer, Mr. Clemens, as it is clear Ester is having Anton murder anyone who might reopen Salem’s case. The inspector then goes to visit Clemens who is suffering from a severe chest cold, to inquire why the lawyer changed Salem’s plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity. When Clemens does not respond, the inspector suggests that a conviction with a not guilty plea might have resulted in an eventual parole, whereas sentencing to an insane asylum is usually for life. Furious when the inspector asks whether the Jenkses bribed him to change Salem’s plea, the lawyer demands the inspector depart. Later that night after a game of chess with a friendly elderly guard, Salem uses a contraption he has devised which allows him to extend the cell key he has carved enabling him to unlatch the lock. Using all his blankets, sheets and clothing twisted together to form a crude rope, Salem climbs out a high window on the rope, then, after balancing along a narrow ledge, swings over to a low wall to reach the top of the asylum, from which he slides down the outside wall. Recovering the morphine vials he has buried, Salem heads off half-naked through the snow to Clemens’ house. Meanwhile, Clemens’ housekeeper, Mrs. Hansen, contacts Anton to report the lawyer’s illness. As soon as Anton departs, Ester telephones the police. At Clemens’ home, the lawyer threatens to reveal the truth unless Anton vows to keep the lawyer out of any investigation. In the presence of Mrs. Hansen, Anton gives Clemens an injection for his cold, unaware that Salem is hiding upstairs. After Anton’s departure, Salem administers a fatal dose of morphine to the insensible Clemens. When the inspector arrives at the Jenks farm, Ester confides she fears for her life as she believes that Anton is insane, demonstrated by his insistence on having seen Salem. When questioned by the inspector, Ester confesses her belief that Emmie and Anton colluded in the murder of the farmhand in order to gain the farm for themselves. Carl recalls that Anton and Emmie were accused of setting fire to the farm to collect the insurance and wonders if the farmhand witnessed this, thus prompting his murder. Upstairs, Salem enters through a window and stumbles slightly causing the parrot to cry out, startling the group downstairs. Hurrying upstairs with the inspector, Ester sketchily relates Anton’s obsession with the family bird and fears her husband has returned. Salem, meanwhile, hurries back outside where he cowers, freezing, on the roof. When Ester reveals Anton has been called to attend to Clemens, the inspector and Carl depart in alarm. Ester then hurries to the garage. Overcome by cold, Salem re-enters the house, takes a coat from the closet then follows Ester to the garage where he brutally murders her with an ax. Returning home, Anton hears Ester’s screams, but upon discovering Salem, collapses in terror. Salem wipes Ester’s blood on the cowering Anton, then flees. The inspector returns to the Jenks farm, having found Clemens dead, and finds the hysterical Anton who confesses to the murder of the farmhand and insists Salem was at the farm to murder Ester. After telephoning in Anton’s confession, the inspector returns to the asylum where he finds Salem asleep. Shining a flashlight around the cell, the inspector then sees the Jenkses’ parrot crawl out of the pocket of the coat Salem took from the house, sealing Salem’s guilt. +

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.