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The Long Night Reviews

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Super Reviewer

November 23, 2010
It's not a bad noir but misses the mark somehow. Both Fonda and Price make something out of their characters as does the great Ann Dvorak but she is underused.
Michael G

Super Reviewer

March 9, 2007
If Frank Capra took a stab at film noir and was an absolute dipshit The Long Night is what you'd end up with. Henry Fonda is his usual great self but he had very very little to work with. Vincent Price does a great job at making you hate his character's pretentious ass but Barbara Bel Geddes was just kind of... there. Ann Dvorak was pretty cool and there were a few glimmers of snappy dialogue for whatever that's worth. Anatole Litvak's direction was kind of interesting but at the same time, how do you mess up a movie that's got both Henry Fonda and Vincent Price?

Super Reviewer

September 5, 2010
I love Price, but I didn't think his performance in this movie was his best. The story was suspenseful at times, but boring at other times, and overall predictable.

Super Reviewer

February 4, 2009
It takes about three minutes for Henry Fonda to shoot Vincent Price and a glorious hour and a half to find out why.

A reworking of Marcel Carne's Le Jour se lève (1939).
May 9, 2014
Moody & noirish; takes the flashback motif to new styles of absurdity.
August 13, 2013
A friendly, but maladjusted veteran meets a girl. The girl likes him but has already met a man who's sweeping her off her feet. Then there's a worldly-wise gal-pal who sees what's really going on. Toss in a few cops that only want to end a situation regardless of the method and.... , someone's gonna die. A joy seeing Price play off Fonda - and Elisha Cook Jr was impeccable too. Bel Geddes and Dvorak are both alluring in their respective type-casts.
July 19, 2012
A promising build up collapses into a flaccid, overwrought ending. I wonder if someone in the front office pasted those pretentious paragraphs into Bel Geddes' mouth, to give the picture a more "uplifting" finish.
September 9, 2011
Almost worth the price of admission

A man suspected of murder is quickly surrounded within an apartment building. The man in the building is widely respected in the neighborhood and his friends and neighbors find it hard to believe he would commit a murder suicide. As the situation escalates, the man has flashbacks of a love triangle that lead to this evening's events.

"In a strange way I'm honest...even when I lie."

Anatole Litvak, director of Snake Pit, The Lady in the Car with Glasses and a Gun, The Deep Blue Sea, The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse, and Out of the Fog, delivers The Long Night. The storyline for this picture is very interesting and well told. Everything throughout the movie falls into place nicely and the plot evolves well. The cast delivers outstanding performances and contains Henry Fonda, Vincent Price, Barbara Bel Geddes, Elisha Cook, and David Clarke.

"The more you hear the less you know."

I am a huge fan of both Henry Fonda and Vincent Price and came across this movie while flicking through Vincent Price movies to DVR. I was impressed by the female characters in this film and Fonda delivered a great wholesome character with an edge. I thought this movie was entertaining with a great resolve. Overall, this has great characters and a solid plot.

Grade: B
December 29, 2010
Clearly, It's Okay for Henry Fonda to Kill Vincent Price

Somewhere around here--I can't tell you where; I can't tell you where most of my books are--I have a cookbook by Vincent and Mary Price. I may have said this before, as it's a story I haul out pretty much any time I'm reviewing a movie with Vincent Price in it that I really don't have much to say about. At any rate, when I picked it up cheap somewhere, I thought, "Well, that's an amusing coincidence. A cookbook by some guy named Vincent Price." I bought it for just that reason. Then, when I got it home and actually looked through it, I discovered that "some guy named Vincent Price" turned out to be "actually that Vincent Price." It seems there are all kinds of things we don't know about him, because what we think of when we think of him is a mad scientist of some sort. And while he's a deeply, deeply unpleasant person here, he isn't an unpleasant person of the mad scientist variety. He's a magician, but he's a stage magician.

And, as of the beginning of the movie, he's a stage magician shot and thrown down a staircase by Henry Fonda. This is an occasion of shock and horror, because Joe Adams is such a nice guy! Why would he do such a thing? As the movie progresses, Joe tells us in flashback exactly why he would do such a thing. You see, he met and fell in love with the sweet and innocent Jo Ann (Barbara Bel Geddes) after a chance meeting. They grew up in the same orphanage, though Joe got out some time ago and Jo Ann only three years ago. It gives them a mutual bond. Only Jo Ann also turns out to be wild about Maximilian the Great, one of the just plain sleaziest characters Vincent Price every played. Slowly, Joe finds out that practically everything Maximilian ever said about himself, to Joe or to Jo Ann, is a lie. Charlene (Ann Dvorak), Maximilian's former assistant, even provides Joe with what turns out to be the last straw. And when Maximilian pushes the issue, well, Joe has taken all he can.

The thing is, what we really have here is another mediocre noir, evidence in case we needed any that you can have a mediocre noir despite having great actors. Because poor Vincent Price actually was in many ways a fine actor. You can tell, because by all accounts he was a really nice guy. Here, though, you absolutely believe that he's basically seducing Jo Ann not because he really finds her all that desirable in herself but because it's so much fun to debauch the innocent. Henry Fonda's still doing the earnest but walking wounded routine, which apparently hurt his children to watch. (A better actor than a father, I understand.) Still, the reason he kept doing it is that he was good at it. It makes me wish I could see a better film starring these two, because this one isn't much worth the time. Surely there was a chance for one.

About the only thing worth noting is that the movie is a perfect Madonna/whore dichotomy. Jo Ann really is that pure and innocent. She works in a greenhouse. She is inexperienced; her view of the world is through what other people tell her about it, though she can visualize it so clearly that it's almost like being there. To both men, she represents something better than what they have. A light and delicacy they'd never known. Joe says that he'd thought coming home would let him be done with killing, and the life represented by Jo Ann is one he could only dream of. And, of course, that Maximilian wants to take. Then there's Charlene, the after picture. She let Maximilian take her away; it's likely but never explicitly stated that they were lovers. He used her up, then he left her. There's something in her which draws Joe, too, though it almost seems to be the part of himself that he never much liked in the first place.

The thing which surprised me most about the DVD of this movie was that it didn't have subtitles. The sound dropped way, way down about fifteen minutes in, which I initially thought was just because it was the narration of Joe's internal monologue. It wasn't, though. It was that this was, alas, a Kino release. And I finally came up with a reasonable explanation of the Kino company, if you're interested in it. And I guess if you've come this far, you are. Much credit is given to the Criterion Collection, and rightfully so. While they do release a fair share of movies more intended to pay their bills than deserving of the company's loving touch, they are also about the only DVD release for a lot of older movies. These tend to be the great classics--or else movies that their selection people think ought to be, I suppose. And then there is Kino. Kino is to the Criterion Collection what "fashion dolls" bought at the dollar store are to name-brand Barbies.
The -Stick
September 21, 2009
I had to pause the film a few minutes after the opening credits. Where had I seen this one before? A french film...with Jean Gabin. A quick Google search confirmed my suspicion. THE LONG NIGHT is the american remake of the 1939 Marcel Carne film LE JOUR SE LEVE. With that in mind, I continued my watch. I sometimes wonder how "film noir" can be seen as an american invention when films like Carne's LE JOUR SE LEVE and QUAY DE BROMES came out a few years before the heyday of american noir in the 1940's - but that is a debate for another day.

WWII veteran Joe Adams (Henry Fonda) resides in a working class neighborhood as a sand blaster for a local factory. One day, he meets a young woman, Jo Ann (Barbara Bel Geddes) delivering flowers to the manager's office. They start flirting and it seems it's the beginning of a beautiful friendship. They see each other off and on afterwards but Jo Ann seems mysteriously non-committal about their relationship. She makes excuses whenever Joe asks her out on a date. Late one night, Joe sees Jo Ann leaving her apartment and decides to follow. Jo Ann leads Joe to a nightclub where a magician, Maximillian The Great (Vincent Price) is the star attraction. Joe discovers that Jo Ann has been seeing Maximilian on the side.

At the nightclub bar, the heart-broken Joe meets the cynical and fast-talking Charlene (Ann Dvorak) who performs as Maximilian's assistant...or was. Charlene has had enough of working with Maximilian. Charlene confides in Joe what type of character this Maximilian guy really is...

Henry Fonda and Barbara Bel Geddes are fine as the young couple once you get by some of the awkward lines and delivery of their initial flirting scenes. Vincent Price - my what a sleaze bag he is in this. "In a strange way I'm honest...even about my lies." Damn!
One of his lies leads to an uncomfortably great scene between Jo Ann & Max. Whew!

I also really liked Ann Dvorak as Charlene. I wish she had a bigger role in this. I wonder if scenes with Joe and Charlene were cut from the story because it somehow feels that way.

As in the french original, THE LONG NIGHT is told mostly in flashbacks.
I was skeptical about how this american version would end knowing the studios penchant for...ahh - screw are gonna have to see for yourself.

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