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Night Must Fall (1964)

Nightmustfall Caught this little known shocker the other week on TCM. I presume it was meant to capitalise on Albert Finney’s meteoric international success in Tom Jones but the star of that ‘bawdy romp’ was cast in a rather different kind of film. From the git-go, a distance shot of stripped-to-the-waist Finney, violently chopping at something in the undergrowth with his axe, his character barely keeps in check a brooding malevolence.  He goes on to insinuate himself into the lives of two local women for whom his girlfriend works, intimidating the hell out of them all before a nasty ending.

Night Must Fall has been slated over the years, which I find unfair.

Finney, not the most subtle of actors, comes on like a cross between an angry young Richard Burton and Bob Mitchum in Cape Fear - very masculine violence seething just below the surface. The women he holds deadly sway over, played by Mona Washbourne, Sheila Hancock and the rather gorgeous Susan Hampshire are all excellent as is the nervy music and inventive photography. There is a faint whiff of Hitchcock, especially in a scene near the end where the camera becomes the terrorised, wheelchair bound old lady, offering us her unenviable perspective. There’s even a shower scene with a decidedly ironic switch in gender power.

An intelligent atmospheric movie, joining Peeping Tom in the 'Scooter Riding Psychotic Killer' sub genre into the bargain.

Editor's note: We are still considering setting up a Scooter Riding Psychotic Killer section, along with the Mod Horror (Dracula AD72, The Sorcerers) section!

Mark Ellis

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