Nightmare (1956)

Genres - Mystery, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Psychological Thriller, Film Noir, Police Detective Film  |   Release Date - May 11, 1956 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 89 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Synopsis by Steve Press

Jazz musician Stan Grayson (Kevin McCarthy) wakes up from a dream in which he has killed a man during a struggle in a bizarre mirrored room. However, thumbprints on his neck, a strange key in his pocket, and a haunting, otherworldly musical riff in his head quickly convince him that it was not just a dream. Afraid that he might be a murderer, yet not recalling the events of the nightmare, he confides in his brother-in-law (and New Orleans homicide detective) René Bressard (Edward G. Robinson), who tells him that he's been working too hard and drinking too much. But as Grayson is almost magnetically drawn back to the scene of the apparent crime, Bressard angrily comes to believe that Stan was lying and knew exactly what he had done. Grayson, paralyzed by his guilt, can barely find the strength to try to clear himself. McCarthy portrays a sense of overwhelming panic almost as well as he does in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and Robinson's tough cop is warmly textured with a sly sense of humor. Nightmare is a far superior remake of director Maxwell Shane's own first adaptation of the Cornell Woolrich story, Fear in the Night (1947). With a larger budget and better cast, Shane creates a shadowy, hypnotic world of seedy urban nightclubs and cheap hotels; even a picnic on the bayou evokes a feeling of dread. Woolrich would have felt right at home.



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