Nightfall (1956)

Genres - Thriller, Crime  |   Sub-Genres - Crime Thriller, Film Noir  |   Release Date - Jan 23, 1957 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 78 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Bruce Eder

Jacques Tourneur was a director who was full of surprises, as Nightfall amply demonstrates -- not that he hadn't done superb examples of film noir earlier in his career (check out Out of the Past and The Leopard Man), but Nightfall is as good as any crime film or thriller of its era, with unexpectedly great performances from its entire cast. Without compromising the action, the suspense, or the forward momentum of the plot, Tourneur delivers a movie filled with rich dialogue and characterizations, a good deal of dark-toned humor, and some key extended flashback sequences that fall right into place, totally breaking up the audience's expectations without slowing the pace or diluting the interest of the viewer. There's also a good deal of violence, of a very personal kind, and one pathologically sadistic character near the center (played by Rudy Bond, cast totally -- and successfully -- against type) who, in tandem with Aldo Ray in one of his best performances, dominates the screen and the action. The pacing does lag slightly just past the middle, in a fashion-show sequence that runs perhaps two minutes longer than it need have, but it sets up a final chase sequence that's as suspenseful (on a multi-layered level) and violent as anything seen in movies up to that point.