The Long Night (Daybreak, 1947)

Gripping melodrama Noir and forgotten masterpiece

US Kino Video DVD edition


Night, shadows and angst when an Average Joe, recently returned from WW2, a man that has killed for his country and that now has
killed again. A true Anti-Hero of the Film Noir genre and with, just as with his brother in misery - Tom Neal's Al Roberts in 1945 Detour,
a very dark view upon his life and the human existence. Both, probably with the credo "No matter what you do, no matter what where
you turn, fate sticks out its foot to trip you"
.
Henry Fonda's Joe doesn't fool anyone with his facade of cheerfulness and his girlfriend wonders why he's always so sad. Henry Fonda
is just fantastic in this role, what a great actor he was, giving me goosebumps. This is almost my favourite film of his, but just almost as
his portrayal of blue-eyed killer Frank in Sergio Leone's Once Upon a Time in the west is my favourite film of his. Best Bad Guy ever.

The Fondas, what a talented family. My 3 Henry Fonda favourites: 1. Once Upon a Time in the West 2. The Long Night 3. Grapes of Wrath
My 3 Jane Fonda favourites: 1. They Shoot Horses Don't They 2. Klute 3. Barbarella, and my 3 Peter Fonda favourites:
1. The Limey 2. Easy Raider 3. Ulee's Gold

The Long Night is an Hollywood re-make of Marcel Carné's 1939 Le Jour se léve and with Jean Gabin the lead role. The french film, an example
of the other type of Film Noir, the French 1930's Noir movies along with the German Noir movies, the expressionistic 1920's ones.
According to the text essay in the DVD extras The Long Night was an homage to the 1939 film, and not just the director Anatole Litvak but
also the films producers and the production manager had worked in the French film industry during the 1930's.

The film has some amazing darkly beautiful set decorating, stage scenery and miniatures that gives you an impression of a dark, dirty and
hopeless industrial town and this is further emphasized by the masterful cinematography by Sol Polito. Night and Shadows.
In the extras we're shown how the filmmakers with the use of stage scenery and miniatures created the vision of the industrial town with
it's around the clock fuming chimneys, something of an expressionistic vision of Hell.
(I remember when i, as a child in the 1970's, travelled from Stockholm to Paris by train. When i woke up in the night and looked out through
the window, we were in the German Ruhr area and the chimneys were spouting out smoke and the melting ovens illuminated the night.
Had i woke up in the middle of Ragnarök ? A strange sense of unreality, and i quickly went to bed again just to wake up in the sunny Paris.)

The Long Night DVD were included in the US Kino Video Box with Sudden Fear, Railroaded and some else

The film starts with a quote from Shakespeare's MacBeth and then we find ourselves in an anonymous industrial town somewhere along the
border of Ohio and Pennsylvania just after the ending of WW2. A depressing dirty town with signs celebrating the return of their soldiers.
A blind ex-soldier (Elisha Cook, Jr. in one of his many small parts) is on his way up to his apartment when a shot man stumbles out and dies.
The killer lives at the top floor and he barricades himself while the police and snipers surrounds the building.

The killer, Joe Adams (Fonda) ponders over how he got into this situation and when the night arrives with it's shadows he tells us his story
in multiple Flashbacks (aaah, what would Film Noir have been like without the Flashback?). How he, a simple industry worker, grew up in a
orphanage, how he met Joanne (Barbara Bel Geddes), cabaret girl Charlene (Ann Dvorak) and the slimy magician Max (Vincent Price).

Fonda, the sets and the photo is magnificent, but also Vincent Price is great and he delivers one of the best performances of his career.
Fonda and Price, two acting styles. Bel Geddes is fine but Ann Dvorak hams it up, Calm Down Girl! Sloooower please.
Charles McGraw can also be seen in a tiny part as an energetic cop.
The film was presented in 4:3 fullscreen original ratio, black & white, english mono audio with extras: comparative clips with the french
original and the text essay "Designing the Night: A Visual essay on the Making of The Long Night

 

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