NIGHT MUST FALL (1937) B/W 117m dir: Richard Thorpe
w/Robert Montgomery Rosalind Russell, Dame May Whitty, Alan Marshall, Merle Tottenham, Kathleen Harrison, Matthew Boulton, Eily Malyon, E.E. Clive, Beryl Mercer
From The Movie Guide: "Due primarily to an amazing performance by Robert Montgomery, this superb, nerve-tingling thriller improves on Emlyn Williams's already shocking stage hit. Whitty is a fussy, domineering grande dame living in a cottage in Essex, England, with niece Russell and several cowed servants. Just after Russell and Whitty hear that a 'very flashy' woman guest in a nearby inn has vanished, Montgomery appears, claiming that he has been working as a page boy at the inn but is now looking for a new job. Montgomery brings with him a heavy hatbox that he places in a closet after being hired as a handyman by the wheelchair-bound Whitty. He waits hand and foot upon her, flattering Whitty at every opportunity, but exchanges barbs with Russell, who distrusts him. When asked about the missing woman, Montgomery describes her in chilling detail, revealing his psychopathic personality and further arousing Russell's suspicion.
"NIGHT MUST FALL is directed with great care by Richard Thorpe, who evokes every bit of suspense intended by playwright Williams (who played the role of the killer on stage, though not nearly as subtly as Montgomery does). Producer Hunt Stromberg saw the play in London and insisted on making it into a film. Although MGM boss Louis B. Mayer thought it was an awful idea, he reluctantly agreed to allow Stromberg, his most successful producer, to undertake the project. Mayer was outraged when Stromberg cast Montgomery, the popular star of frothy MGM comedies, in the role of the killer, but the critical and popular success of the film proved him wrong. The film was remade by the studio nearly 20 years later, starring Albert Finney, Susan Hampshire, and Mona Washbourne, but the remake lacked the tautness and dramatic impact of the original."
NIGHT MUST FALL was nominated for two Oscars: Best Actor (Montgomery) and Supporting Actress (Whitty).