46 user 20 critic

Fear in the Night (1947)

Passed | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 16 June 1948 (Mexico)
A man dreams he committed murder, then begins to suspect it was real.


Maxwell Shane


Cornell Woolrich (story "Nightmare") (as William Irish), Maxwell Shane (written for the screen by)

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Complete credited cast:
Paul Kelly ... Cliff Herlihy
DeForest Kelley ... Vince Grayson
Ann Doran ... Lil Herlihy
Kay Scott Kay Scott ... Betty Winters
Charles Victor Charles Victor ... Captain Warner
Robert Emmett Keane ... Lewis Belknap, aka Harry Byrd
Jeff York ... Deputy Torrence (as Jeff Yorke)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Joey Ray Joey Ray ... Contractor (scenes deleted)
Loyette Thomson Loyette Thomson ... Waitress (scenes deleted)


Bank teller Vince Grayson wakes from a nightmare in which he and an unknown woman murdered a man in a strange, mirrored room. Only a dream...but Vince finds that he has physical objects and bruises from his "dream." His cop brother-in-law dismisses his story...until the family, on a picnic, takes shelter from a thunderstorm in a deserted mansion containing that mirrored room. Is doom closing in on Vince? Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The suspense is killing...as terror fills the screen in the year's best mystery (original ad) See more »


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

16 June 1948 (Mexico) See more »

Also Known As:

And So Scared to Death See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Frank Paul Sylos, who did the art direction for "Fear in the Night", also handled the art direction for its remake, "Nightmare" in 1956. See more »


Cliff Herlihy tells Vince that his wife, Vince's sister, is expecting a baby, apparently her first. Vince congratulates him. Later he says they've been married for 15 years. This is possible but unlikely. See more »


Vince Grayson: I've got an honest man's conscience... in a murderer's body.
See more »


Remade as Nightmare (1956) See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Reality Check
11 May 2004 | by sol1218See all my reviews

****SPOILERS**** Remade nine years later in 1956 as "Nightmare" with Kevin McCarthy and Edward G. Robinson "Fear in the Night" is a neat little thriller about a man who has a nightmare that seems too real and turns out to be more then just a figment of his imagination.

Waking up in a cold sweat one morning at his room at the Commodore Hotel bank teller Vince Grayson, Deforest Kelly, realized that he has thumb marks, like he was being strangled, an his throat and blood on his hand as well as a strange key and a button in his coat pocket that was in his nightmare. Vince had a dream where he got into a fight with someone in what looked like a hall of mirrors. The man that Vince was fighting was handed a steel bore by the women in the dream with him but Vince grabbed it and stabbed the man to death. With his attacked dead Vince ran out of the hall of mirrors and blacked out; it's then when he woke up in his hotel room.

Eerie mystifying and frightening film about an innocent man who thinks that he murdered someone only to find out later that he was used by the real killer Lewis Belknap/Harry Byrd, Robert Emmett Keane. Belknap put Vince under hypnosis to get him to commit the murder, or murders, of his wife Mrs. Belknap, Janet Warren, and her lover Bob Clune, Michael Harvey. It was a murder that Belknap not only planned but manipulated Vince into thinking that he committing and then having him take he blame for it.

Very unusual movie for that time, 1947, about mind manipulation and murder and it comes off very well. Deforest Kelly, Vince Grayson, is the poor and innocent dupe who doesn't have a clue to what he did and how he did it and that confusion almost drives him to kill himself.

Cliff Herlihy,Paul Kelly, is very effective as Vince's brother-in-law as well as police detective. Cliff at first suspects Vince of murder but as the facts slowly comes out realizes that there's more to what happened in the murder of Mrs. Belknap and Bob Clune then what Vince has been telling him.

Later Vince being is again put under hypnosis by Lewis Belknap inducing him to kill himself by drowning and then leaving a suicide note confessing to Belknap's murders. That attempt by Belknap goes haywire with Cliff having the entire scheme ,to frame Vince by Belknap, audio taped as evidence of his crime of where he had Vince kill Bob in self-defense. With Bob out of the way Belknap then ran down his wife in the driveway killing her.

The ending with Belknap trying to get away from the police and having his back tire shot out and his car plunge down a gully to his death was about the only action scene in the movie. The mind games played by Lewis Belknap on Vince as well as the movie audience was more then enough to keep everybody watching interested.

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