review for All Night Long on AllMovie

All Night Long (1961)
by Craig Butler review

The works of William Shakespeare have inspired many films, including page-to-stage adaptations like Kenneth Branagh's Hamlet and much looser inspirations, such as West Side Story. All Night Long very definitely belongs to the latter category, keeping the plot of Othello, but re-setting it in an early '60s jazz milieu. An unfairly neglected little treasure, All Night Long is an intriguing and atmospheric thriller that updates Shakespeare most effectively. Set over the course of one late night party, the film is virtually a continuous jam session between some of the brightest lights of the jazz world. This constant musical background infuses every scene, creating a backdrop that contextualizes the dramatic events and adds a purposefully intrusive feel to the scenes. Johnny Cousin is obsessed with making his mark in the jazz world and the music reflects and intensifies that obsession. Patrick McGoohan is excellent, a wound coil ready to spring at the slightest provocation, but battling to keep himself taut. He is sly, scheming, and duplicitous, but capable of presenting himself as genial and sympathetic when needed. The audience, however, is ever aware of his ambition and of its overwhelming influence upon him. His breakdown at the end is superb. All Night Long cops out a little at the finish, replacing the original tragedy's deaths with a happy ending, but until then, it is engrossing and original.