The Night Visitor1971
The Night Visitor (1971)
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as Esther Jenks
as Dr. Anton Jenks
as Clemens the Attorney
as Dr. Kemp
as Mr. Torens
as Mrs. Hansen
Critic Reviews for The Night Visitor
Laslo Benedek's methodical direction and Henning Kristiansen's astonishing photography-a gothic mix of melancholy blue landscapes and pale, crumbling interiors-only serve to underline the film's deficiency, the utter lack of logic.
Audience Reviews for The Night Visitor
This film opens up with Max von Sydow running across snowy fields in his underpants. Good lord, we wonder, what's he doing out there? Isn't he freezing? Soon he cleverly figures out a way to get into a house via an upstairs window, and it becomes apparent that he knows the three people who are engaged in a disagreement in the kitchen below. We're not sure what he's up to, and as it's best you don't know a lot about the plot before watching this one, I won't say more. The story is taut and well-told by director László Benedek, who wisely avoids extraneous detail, and there are moments of real tension. It's dark, but Benedek exercises restraint, which I liked, but which may turn off viewers seeking more explicit thrills. Trevor Howard, who you may recognize from Brief Encounter (1945) and The Third Man (1949), is strong as a detective, and the rest of the cast are all good as well. I liked the way we eventually see how von Sydow is able to do what he does, though you'll have to suspend disbelief a bit. Clever ending too.
"The Night Visitor" is an obscure, thoroughly strange drama that somehow managed to cast Ingmar Bergman regulars Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullman in their prime. The entire film takes place in freezing cold and snow. Wrongly sentenced for murder, Von Sydow is imprisoned in a decrepit insane asylum (the real-life location, an ancient Swedish fortress by the sea, is astounding). The real killer lurks in his old family home nearby, where his three sisters and one brother-in-law awkwardly reside. Von Sydow has found an elaborate way to slip out of his cell undetected involving a delightful assortment of tools and tricks, and he aims to sneak home, avenge himself and return to the asylum with a perfect alibi. Unfortunately, this plot involves tying his clothes into a rope, which means poor Von Sydow spends much of the film stumbling through the snowy wilderness in his skivvies. Incredible to watch. The logic of the story doesn't quite hold up and its ambience is strictly B-movie (director Laslo Benedek had a spotty career, highlighted by Brando's "The Wild One" and a version of "Death of a Salesman" shot almost 20 years earlier), but there's a wonderful twist at the end. Don't expect much from Ullman - she barely has anything to do beyond making distraught faces - but the wizened veteran Trevor Howard adds a good turn as an investigating police inspector.
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