A Horror Ahead Of Its Time?
Robert Montgomery Goes Psycho for Night Must Fall (1937)
I'll go on a limb to ask this: Did Night Must Fall have impact on audiences similar to Psycho twenty-three years later? And here's another: Did Hitchcock get his idea for off-casting benign leading men as bent killers from seeing Night Must Fall? I realize this Metro adapt from a Brit stage hit pulled punches, but coming from the thriller-timid lion, it was a brave roar. We never do find out for sure what's in Robert Montgomery's hatbox, though mere thought of its being a dismembered head would have been enough to traumatize audiences who'd never been exposed to stuff rough as this. Was Night Must Fall the first major talking picture about a serial killer who dismembers victims? I pondered that while watching --- couldn't offhand think of any. I'll bet Night Must Fall handed out more nightmares than whatever Frankensteins and Draculas the 30's gave us. MGM actually tried to distance itself from the finished product for fear of backlash, so say histories. Bob fought valiant to play the thing after seeing NMF on B'way and realizing this was the image tweak for him. Elizabeth Montgomery remembered her father hiding in the closet to whistle his character's baleful theme (Mighty Lak A Rose) and scare hell out of her (scarcely a wonder Liz had Daddy issues).
|A Backstory Sequence Deleted From Final Prints|