The Night Has A Thousand Eyes (1948) Is On DVD From Germany
Actually less a noir than variation on The Uninvited, involvingmore that is supernatural, and effect it has on frightened doe
that is Gail Russell, an actress gifted for show of vulnerability, onscreen and
off. Was this instinct, talent, or just who she was? Latter would seem
likeliest, sad circumstance of Russell's life a best argument that some folks
should never be film stars. She would cope with malevolent spirits on one
hand, Para predators on the other. Those
schoolmates did Gail no favor by recommending her to studio scouts. The Night
Has AThousand Eyes is Gail Russell sum-up and added log on fire that was
romance of Paramount noir. Between their own
and ones independent Hal Wallisdid for company release, Para owned whole of
lush avenue that forked off doom-gloom we associate with noir out of RKO, Universal,
even MGM on most of occasions.
Consider that at Paramount,
most of good, or at least well-intentioned people, got to live. Downer finish
was rare to noir from this address. Billy Wilder's approach was not common to
others who neighbored him on Para stages.
Where he'd kill off miscreants of Double Indemnity (they were in on murder, and
so under Code authority, had to die or face confinement), a director like John
Farrow ended on hope (Thousand Eyes' romantic couple will survive and
ultimately thrive) or even laugh coda Elsa Lanchester supplies The Big Clock
after villainy is dealt out. Most of Para-noir is spread with Victor Young
scoring, him a most melodic and standard-bearing of composers. "Stella By
Starlight" is night music from Paramount
as much as "Laura" for 20th. Young is a major reason I like The Big
Clock, I Walk Alone,Appointment With Danger, and this one. Is it time to
anoint him as truest auteur behind best of noir at Paramount?
But that would exclude John Farrow, who rates
hurrahs he still doesn't get from noir congregation. Is it because the films
have been largely out of circulation? I speak of The Night Has A Thousand Eyes
today for having finally got a DVD --- not a boot as customary for pre-49
Paras, but a Region Two just out from Germany. Maybe it was mood of the
moment, but this thing really grabbedme, and what Farrow did with scene after
scene, rife with his signature long takes and roving camera, was just a
knockout. I'm all for Orson Welles, Max Ophuls, and others who used such
technique, but none did them better than Farrow, who according to accounts,
rehearsed cast/crew to pinpoint readiness, then shot reams of action and
dialogue in continuous take ("six or seven pages," according to
studio press), and not just once in The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, but frequent all through. Film faculty could assign all of Farrow Paramounts to classes
(plusWhere Danger Lives,His Kind Of Woman, 50's others), and give the rest of
noirs a rest.
One lesson learned with The
Uninvited was not to pull rugs from under supernatural content. Let the ghosts
be real, and again with The Night Has A Thousand Eyes, make Edward G. Robinsonvisions of a future come true without final reel debunk of the phenomenon. Source yarn was from Cornell
Woolrich, and as with all his, grabs from the opening, suspense keyed to end
of 81 minutes, commendably brief where too many studio releases ran overlong in
the 40's. Another plus for The Night Has A Thousand Eyes is Bunker
Hill setting for part of action. No backdrop fitted noir so well.
That benighted section seems built for stories told there, ones to come
including The Turning Point,Cry Danger!,Kiss Me Deadly, numerous others.
Bunker Hill waslandscape Los Angeles seemingly
maintained to accommodate noir filmmakers. Studios should have bought the shabby ruins
just to host thrillers more convincing for being shot there. What a shame this
noir neighborhood got bulldozed. HEREis the Amazon Germany link for The Night Has A Thousand Eyes on DVD.