Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948)

Night Has a Thousand Eyes (1948), directed by John Farrow.

We begin in the middle with a young woman saved from suicide one night at the train yards. In a restaurant the clairvoyant gives us the backstory. Yes, he used to have a mentalist act which was all faked, but now and then he would get real flashes of the future. He ran away because he saw that if he married the woman he loved she would die.

She died in childbirth anyway; we understand fate could not be challenged. Twenty years later he sees that her daughter has only days to live. Can he prevent it this time? She believes him, the police don't, and the boyfriend is struggling not to. As the hour approaches all the little clues come true, until: he knows she will die under the stars, at the feet of a lion...

This is a modest supernatural thriller, elevated by the noir look and sense of inescapable doom we expect from a story by Cornell Woolrich (= William Irish = George Hopley) who also gave us The Leopard Man (1943), The Window (1949), Rear Window (1954), The Bride Wore Black (1968) and Mississippi Mermaid (1969),.

Edward G. Robinson could do almost anything, in this case saving his character with quiet earnestness, which might otherwise have been ruined with eye-rolling excess. Infamously, Robinson was never even nominated for an Academy Award; only a psychic can explain that.

I'll see anything with tragic, sad-eyed Gail Russell, just perfect for this role. Previously reviewed in The Uninvited (1944), Angel and the Badman (1947) and Seven Men from Now (1956).

As I wrote about Wilder's A Foreign Affair (1948), John Lund was not a very exciting actor, but here he does good service as the boyfriend honestly torn between what can't be true and his fear of what might really happen.

William Demarest is the colorful police Lt, not quite as comical as his usual work.


Photographed by John F. Seitz -- Double Indemnity (1944), Five Graves to Cairo (1943), Sullivan's Travels (1941), Sunset Blvd. (1950).

Victor Young wrote the lush score, although not the title music that became a jazz standard.

Edith Head costumes.

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. Not much hidef detail, more like a DVD in image quality.

Noir scholar Imogen Sara Smith provides a rich commentary track.

About Gail Russell: she says the actress was scouted for film while in high school -- "looks like Hedy Lamarr" the boys said. She took the work only for the money, needing to support her family. She was excruciatingly shy and nervous on set, turning to alcohol in her misery. This became a life-long problem which killed her at age 36.

John Lund was a pleasant person with no illusions about his acting. He thought he was miscast as debonair romantic leads and would have preferred supporting roles as a character actor of some sort.