Fear in the Night (1947)

“Last night I dreamed I killed a man.”

I didn’t expect much when I picked up the DVD Fear in the Night but was pleasantly surprised by this gripping little psychological thriller. Based on a Cornell Woolrich story and directed by Maxwell Shane, the film is the story of mild-mannered bank teller Vince Grayson (DeForest Kelley) who wakes up one morning after an extremely disturbing dream. In the dream, Vince is inside an octagonal shaped, mirrored room, and here he struggles with, and then kills a man. The dream lingers even after Vince wakes up, and to his horror, he finds thumbprints on his throat and blood on his hands.

Vince is convinced there’s something real to his dream, and he’s so disturbed about it, he can no longer function in his job. His girlfriend, Betty (Kay Scott) would like to help, but Vince won’t confide in her. Instead, he turns to his brother-in-law Cliff (Paul Kelly), a homicide detective, for help. Cliff initially dismisses Vince’s nightmare, but then when several bizarre incidents take place, Cliff begins to take Vince’s nightmare seriously. Together, Cliff and Vince discover a trail of murder, deceit and skullduggery, and they begin to piece the mystery together.

The story perfectly complements the nightmare scenario. Memories gradually return to Vince through subconscious recognition, and the nightmare sequences are filmed very cleverly. This Alpha DVD version is acceptable quality. Some of the scenes are a little dark, but not unwatchable, and a couple of white flashes appear in the print. The sound quality is good, and just a few minor break-ups of the film fritter at the seams. From director Maxwell Shane

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Filed under Film Noir

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