Nightfall (1957) - Rotten Tomatoes

Nightfall (1957)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

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This classic film noir, adapted from a David Goodis novel and filmed by Jacque Tourneur, is the tale of an artist falsely accused of murder who is forced to flee both the law and organized crime when the real killers think that he has their loot.


Aldo Ray
as James Vanning
Anne Bancroft
as Marie Gardner
Jocelyn Brando
as Laura Fraser
James Gregory
as Ben Fraser, Insurance Investigator
Frank Albertson
as Dr. Edward Gurston
George Cisar
as Bus Driver
Eddie McLean
as Taxi Driver
Mana Belmar
as Spanish Woman
Maria Belmar
as Spanish Couple
J. Walter Smith
as Shoeshine Boy
Monty Ash
as Clerk
Eddie MacLean
as Taxi Driver
Art Bucaro
as Cashier
Gene Roth
as Bartender
Jane Lynn
as Model
Pat Jones
as Model
Winifred Waring
as Fashion Narrator
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Critic Reviews for Nightfall

All Critics (8) | Top Critics (3)

The kind of pedigreed pulp that gets left off greatest-genre-hits lists yet still inspires motormouthed overpraising from directorial enthusiasts.

Full Review… | June 9, 2010
Time Out
Top Critic

Not only a nifty late noir but a model of economical filmmaking -- well-sketched atmosphere, deft characterizations, and a 78-minute running time.

Full Review… | June 8, 2010
Village Voice
Top Critic

A minor film compared to Out of the Past, perhaps, but no less gripping.

Full Review… | January 26, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Crisply directed, scripted with gems of hardboiled lines and superbly paced, it's a film of darkness and light that ends up in the snowy mountains of Wyoming...

Full Review… | August 11, 2010
Parallax View

In spite of that tantalizing potential, Nightfall will always just be a promising B picture.

Full Review… | June 7, 2010
Slant Magazine

Uneven thriller with some fine set pieces and beautiful photography.

Full Review… | August 9, 2007
Classic Film and Television

Audience Reviews for Nightfall

Aldo Ray is a man on the run who convinces Anne Bancroft that he's not a killer but a man in the wrong place at the wrong time. Great tale filled with desperate characters, well worth a rental. Recommended.

Bill Bryant
Bill Bryant

In "Nightfall," James Vanning(Aldo Ray) has a conversation with Ben Fraser(James Gregory), an insurance investigator, at a bus stop before deciding to go into a bar. There, he takes a seat next to Marie(Anne Bancroft, impossibly young), a model, and loans her enough money for a drink. They hit it off and agree to meet later which is a shame when John(Brian Keith, highly improbably young) and Red(Rudy Bond) come menacingly back into his life, really wanting to know where the money is which reminds Vanning of happier days, camping with his best friend Doc Gurston(Frank Albertson)in Wyoming. As behooves any good film noir, "Nightfall" works much better in the shadows with its crackling dialogue than in the harsh glare of day. The movie starts well, dealing out clues methodically, especially Fraser's involvement. At the same time, it ably depicts the darkness lurking just behind 1950's conformity as the movie neatly seques between Vanning's lonely story and the domestic back and forth between the Frasers. There is also some fine location work for the time while the supporting cast fares better than the dull lead. Sadly, in trying to find a way out, the movie takes the easiest path in tying together the pieces too tightly for this sort of film.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer


I dunno why, but whenever I watch a noir, I think of a category for it. This belongs to the "clearing his name" subgenre, like The Wrong Man and Kansas City Confidential. There's a few noteworthy elements. As in Out of the Past, Tourneur uses a flashback structure to reveal the story, but this time he fragments it a lot more, often leaving the viewer guessing why the characters are in their situations. This is the first movie I've seen with Aldo Ray, and he has a certain quality to him, kind of a teddy bear toughness. And there's a wonderfully grisly death at the end. Other than that, it's not too special but it's plotted well and a few moments of stimulating photography. Anne Bancroft is lovely, but doesn't seem like a particularly good fit for this role.

Martin Teller
Martin Teller

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