Dead of Night | Ealing 1945 | Michael Redgrave, Googie Withers,

Dead of Night | Ealing 1945 | Michael Redgrave, Googie Withers,

A pioneering horror classic, and still one of the most successful anthologies to date, with five episodes directed by four different directors

Horror anthologies hardly ever work since the episodic structure rarely allows for the convincing development of character and suspense. This is a rare and terrifically frightening exception – five tales wrapped in one eerie package and made by four top directors of the era, Alberto Cavalcanti (‘Christmas Party’ and ‘The Ventriloquist’s Dummy’), Charles Crichton (‘Golfing Story’), Basil Dearden (‘Hearse Driver’, as well as the linking sections) and Robert Hamer (‘The Haunted Mirror’).

Staying at a ghostly Victorian mansion, Walter Craig (Johns) realises that his recurring nightmare is coming true. Likewise, each of the other guests have had their own bad dreams, and they take it in turns to relate their creepy visions.

Cavalcanti steals top prize with the closing sequence starring Redgrave as Maxwell Frere, a loopy ventriloquist being taken over by his dummy, an idea that would be expanded in Dickie Attenborough’s Magic, starring Anthony Hopkins.

The chills are briefly interrupted by Chrichton’s ‘Golfing Story’, a darkly comic skit in which Basil Radford’s George Parratt and Naunton Wayne’s Larry Potter compete for the hand of the same girl.

production details

UK | Ealing | 103 minutes | 1945

Directors: Alberto Cavalcanti, Charles Crichton, Basil Dearden, Robert Hamer
Screenplay: John Baines, Angus Macphail
Original Stories: H.G. Wells, E.F. Benson, John Baines, Angus Macphail
Art Direction: Michael Relph
Director Of Photography: Douglas Slocombe
Additional Dialogue: T. E. B. Clarke
Editor: Charles Hasse
Producer: Michael Balcon
Original Music Composer: Georges Auric

cast
Mervyn Johns as Walter Craig
Roland Culver as Eliot Foley
Mary Merrall as Mrs. Foley
Googie Withers as Joan Cortland (The Haunted Mirror)
Frederick Valk as Dr. Van Straaten
Anthony Baird as Hugh Grainger (The Hearse Conductor)
Sally Ann Howes as Sally O’Hara (The Christmas Story)
Robert Wyndham as Dr. Albury (The Christmas Story)
Judy Kelly as Joyce Grainger (The Hearse Conductor)
Miles Malleson as Hearse Driver (The Hearse Conductor)
Michael Allan as Jimmy Watson (The Christmas Story)
Barbara Leake as Mrs. O’Hara (The Christmas Story)
Ralph Michael as Peter Cortland (The Haunted Mirror)
Esme Percy as Antiques Dealer (The Haunted Mirror)
Basil Radford as George Parratt (The Golfing Story)
Naunton Wayne as Larry Potter (The Golfing Story)
Peggy Bryan as Mary Lee (The Golfing Story)
Allan Jeayes as Maurice Olcott (The Ventriloquist’s Dummy)
Michael Redgrave as Maxwell Frere (The Ventriloquist’s Dummy)
Elisabeth Welch as Beulah (The Ventriloquist’s Dummy)
Hartley Power as Sylvester Kee (The Ventriloquist’s Dummy)
Magda Kun as Mitzi (The Ventriloquist’s Dummy)
Garry Marsh as Harry Parker (The Ventriloquist’s Dummy)
Renee Gadd as Mrs. Craig
John McGuire as Hugo Fitch (The Ventriloquist’s Dummy) (uncredited)

 

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