Somewhere in the Night, a Tightly Knit Suffocating Noir

Somewhere in the Night

 

By the 1st of August, 1945, Louella Parsons reported in her column that, “A Lonely Journey” was set to film with John Hodiak to star for 20th Century Fox; Howard Dimsdale and Marvin Borowsky were listed as the writers.[1] Carole Landis was chosen for the female lead in Somewhere, but she refused the part, and suspended by 20th Century; the suspension was sizeable, in that it lasted until Somewhere in the Night finished production.[2] Ms. Nancy Guild (pronounced as rhyming with wild[3]) was added as the romantic counterpart to Hodiak’s amnesic Marine. Within one-month Joseph L. Mankiewicz left off his work on “11 Berkeley Square” to take the reins of, The Lonely Journey, both directing and writing; the report from 20th Century was that Mankiewicz would return to 11 Berkeley Square, after finishing the amnesia tale (which he did not).[4]

This dark and twisted WWII story came from the mind of Marvin Borowsky, who was also responsible for the screenplay of Reunion in France (1942, Mankiewicz produced), and the adaptation of Roger Butterfield’s book: Pride of the Marines (1945). Borowsky got his start at MGM along with other newcomers, Stephen Callahan, James Hill and Russell Rouse; they having the responsibility to contrive new ideas and learn from those established writers at the studio.[5] Yet unknown, RKO took a look at some of Borowsky’s stories and chose one entitled: Good Luck, Johnny Coke, with John H. Auer to produce and direct;[6] this story never saw the cameras roll. The Lonely Journey would finally morph into, Somewhere in the Night, with Lee Strasberg adapting the story, and Dimsdale sharing the screenplay credit with Mankiewicz. Borowsky would later become a professor of film writing at UCLA, and prior to his work in Hollywood, he was a play-reader for the Theatre Guild, and worked for RKO Theatres.[7]

1658776_originalsomewhere-in-the-night

 

Somewhere in the Night was set to roll cameras on November 19, 1945, with Josephine Hutchinson added to cast, no small effort by producer Mankiewicz. He visited Ms. Hutchinson at her home, showing her the script. She liked the part of the lonely, desperate Plain-Jane character and she ended her five-year retirement for the production.[8] Others were announced for roles in the film, which either did not come to fruition or the part was reduced to an uncredited performance. Such was the case of Polly Rose (sister of producer Billy Rose), who signed on for Somewhere in the Night for a featured part, ended playing a nurse, with no screen credit.[9] Roy Roberts was set to play one of the doctors in this Film Noir by Mankiewicz, but Jack Davis and Philip Van Zandt garnered those roles;[10] the Swiss dancer, Marion De Sydow was also promised a featured part but did not make the cut.[11] When all was said and done, the main players were, Hodiak. Guild, Richard Conte, Lloyd Nolan and Hutchinson.

John Hodiak

John Hodiak

Nancy Guild

Nancy Guild

Richard Conte

Richard Conte

Lloyd Nolan

Lloyd Nolan

Josephine Hutchinson

Josephine Hutchinson

 

Somewhere in the Night has grown in popularity over the years, especially with Film Noir buffs, yet, the movie was not without plaudits upon its premiere, as too many believe today because of selected reviews by the popular film critics of the era. Harrison’s Reports said it was “Very Good!… The action intrigues and grips one from the start to finish… The excitement and suspense is sustained at such a high pitch that the spectator is kept on the edge of his seat.”[12] Edwin Schallert wrote that “Somewhere in the Night qualifies as a pretty good picture of the thriller-diller type, its novelty being that it effectively preserves the viewpoint of the amnesia victim throughout. It also has good suspenseful melodramatic elements.[13] Walter Winchell said of Somewhere in the Night, “is an adroitly scripted meller. The dialogue is not just silky-but pure nylon.”[14]

Somewhere in the Night

 

 

The film opened in Los Angeles on Friday May 31, 1946, at three theaters: Grauman’s Chinese, Lowe’s State and the Fox Uptown;[15] Somewhere in the Night, premiered in New York at the Roxy on Wednesday, June 12, 1946, and in at least two cities on June 9.[16] This is a wonderfully executed Film Noir, which begins with a bang of claustrophobia, which spreads to desperation, growing to impending doom, and we follow this marine from his perspective all the way to the finish. I hope you enjoy this tight, moody Noir thriller.

Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, May 30, 1946

Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, California, May 30, 1946

 

Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, Texas) June 9, 1946

Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, Texas) June 9, 1946

Paris News (Paris, Texas) June 9, 1946

Paris News (Paris, Texas) June 9, 1946

 

Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) June 7, 1946

Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) June 7, 1946

 

 

By C. S. Williams

 

 

[1] Morning News (Wilmington, Delaware) August 2, 1945

Oakland Tribune (Oakland, California) August 13, 1945

[2] Variety, December 5, 1945

[3] Screenland, September, 1946

[4] Film Bulletin, September 17, 1945

[5] Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) July 8, 1940

[6] Long Beach Independent (Long Beach, California) August 24, 1943

[7] Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) July 6, 1969

[8] Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) November 9, 1945

[9] Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) November 26, 1945

Motion Picture Daily, December 7, 1945

[10] Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) November 24, 1945

[11] Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) December 11, 1945

[12] Harrison’s Reports, May 4, 1946

[13] Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) June 1, 1946

[14] St. Louis Post-Dispatch (St. Louis, Missouri) June 17, 1946

[15] Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, California) May 30, 1946

[16] Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Brooklyn, New York) June 7, 1946

Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, Texas) June 9, 1946

Paris News (Paris, Texas) June 9, 1946

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