Yesterday’s favor on the bus suddenly brought to mind a scene from a barely remembered movie I stumbled upon a long time ago. What I remembered about the movie was: The general plot, and that it starred a young DeForest Kelley (long before he became Dr. McCoy on Star Trek), and that it was not terrible, and that it involved a plot twist which I don’t think could actually happen in real life (which yesterday’s post gave away – Sorry).
A little sleuthing on Internet Movie Database told me that the movie is named Fear in the Night, it was made in 1947, and it was DeForest Kelley’s film debut.
I also learned that it is in public domain – which means that the entire movie is available on YouTube, for free.
So, during breaks, lunch, and offline moments today, I watched Fear in the Night in installments. (It’s only an hour long, or so.)
Fear in the Night is a work of B-movie Noir, and it is damned good.
It starts off in the middle of a nightmare. (It was based on the novel Nightmare, by Cornell Woolrich.) Surrounded by some cool dream effects, Vince Grayson (Kelley) walks into a weird octagonal room covered in mirrors. He finds a man and woman in the process of cutting into a wall safe. A fight breaks out, during which Vince tears a button off of the man’s coat, and Vince kills him. Vince locks the dead man in a closet and pockets the key.
Vince Grayson wakes up in his tiny apartment, glad that terrible nightmare is over. Then he finds bruise marks on his neck and blood on his wrist. Did he injure himself during the night? Then he finds the button and the key in his coat pocket and begins to wonder if he actually killed someone.
Vince doesn’t take this possibility well. He calls in sick from his job at the bank. His boss doesn’t believe he’s really sick. Vince’s girlfriend, who also works at the bank, is worried about Vince. She calls him during a break, and when he doesn’t answer the phone, she becomes more worried, and the boss becomes more skeptical.
Vince, meanwhile, is out wandering the streets, trying to figure out if he’s losing his mind.
There is nothing in the papers about a murdered man.
Vice seeks out the help of his brother-in-law, who’s a classic Film Noir hard-boiled police detective. The brother-in-law is reluctant to get involved, at first, and diagnoses Vince with that 40’s classic “workin’ too hard”. Eventually, though, the brother-in-law agrees to help, but only if they keep it a secret from Vince’s sister because she’s “gonna have a kid”.
Vince misses more days at work, while slipping deeper into madness. Only Vince and his brother-in-law understand why.
The brother-in-law, the sister, and the girlfriend decide that the best thing for Vince is to take him on a picnic. They find a deserted mansion, and the brother-in-law begins to wonder if Vince is trying to pull a fast one on him.
Is Vince Grayson a killer with a bad memory? Is he a killer with a strange way of covering it up? Or has Vince just been workin’ too hard, and just needs some rest?
Even if you read yesterday’s spoiler, it’s worth watching this movie unfold.