6.4/10
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8 user 16 critic

The Big Night (1951)

Approved | | Drama, Film-Noir, Thriller | 7 December 1951 (USA)
A teenager comes of age while seeking revenge on the man who beat up his father.

Director:

Joseph Losey

Writers:

Stanley Ellin (novel), Joseph Losey (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
John Drew Barrymore ... George La Main (as John Barrymore Jr.)
Preston Foster ... Andy La Main
Joan Lorring ... Marion Rostina
Howard St. John ... Al Judge
Dorothy Comingore ... Julie Rostina
Philip Bourneuf ... Dr. Lloyd Cooper
Howland Chamberlain ... Flanagan (as Howland Chamberlin)
Myron Healey ... Kennealy
Emile Meyer ... Peckinpaugh (as Emil Meyer)
Mauri Leighton ... Terry Angelus (as Mauri Lynn)
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Storyline

George La Main, just turned 17, suffers growing pains and is anxious to prove his manhood. That night, George's adored father Andy is savagely beaten by sportswriter Al Judge. Traumatized and unable to learn why it happened, George goes gunning for Judge. His mission becomes an odyssey through the town's seamy side, and his coming of age is more of a trial by fire than he bargained for. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

whiskey | poker | metaxa | cognac | beer | See All (34) »

Taglines:

GRIPPING! Under cover of darkness a kid learns about life!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 December 1951 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Nacht der Wahrheit See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

This film marks the only screen acting appearance by future director Robert Aldrich. He was Joseph Losey's assistant on the film (not their only collaboration) and Aldrich often said that he felt closest to Losey of all the directors he had worked with during his long apprenticeship as an assistant - others included Charles Chaplin, Jean Renoir and Lewis Milestone. He also said, jokingly, that Losey had only used him as an actor "because he knows how self-conscious I am". See more »

Goofs

The birthday cake is obviously fake. Flanagan removes the cake from the bar by grabbing the cake in a way that would have covered his hands in frosting if it were real. See more »

Quotes

Marion Rostina: I mean, each of us has got secret things deep inside, and if we don't have someone we can share them with, we usually go all haywire. That's what I mean by lonely.
See more »

Soundtracks

Am I Too Young
Music by Lyn Murray
Lyrics by Sid Kuller
Sung by Mauri Leighton (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
THE BIG NIGHT (Joseph Losey, 1951) **1/2
23 August 2006 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

From Losey's American feature films (a period which barely lasted four years, when he fell victim to political persecution) I had only previously watched his eccentric debut, THE BOY WITH GREEN HAIR (1948). The same year he made THE BIG NIGHT, a low-budget noir, he directed two other thrillers - THE PROWLER, Losey's own favorite from this early phase of his career and M, an Americanization of Fritz Lang's German masterpiece. Both these films promise to be a good deal more interesting than the ones I watched, and I hope I get the chance to view them someday...

Anyway, back to THE BIG NIGHT: in itself, it wasn't too bad but it didn't feel at all like a Losey film; perhaps that's because I'm not used to watching him dealing with an American setting - but it's still a minor film, not quite knowing where it's going and not even that compelling while it's on. The noir-ish atmosphere (courtesy of cinematographer Hal Mohr), however, is quite interestingly deployed - sometimes with an audacious psychological resonance, as in the nightclub scene where a riotous drum solo brings back to lead John Barrymore Jr. (looking more like Sean Penn than his matinée' idol father!) memories of his father's vicious beating at the hands of a crippled but influential sports columnist (an effectively sinister Howard St. John); the latter episode is actually a key scene, which sets the plot in motion and sends Barrymore - who witnessed father Preston Foster's humiliation and whom he idolized - seething with revenge in search of St. John.

The characters are largely stereotypes - caring bartender (Foster owns a bar), philosophical drunk pal, his bitter girlfriend (a rather spent Dorothy Comingore, who 10 years earlier had played Susan Alexander in CITIZEN KANE [1941]!), her good-girl sister who falls for and yearns to 'save' Barrymore, shady promoter Emil Meyer (a dry run for his memorable turn as a crooked cop in SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS [1957]), etc. - but the last act provides a couple of ironic twists involving the characters of Foster, St. John and the tragic fate of a woman they both loved in their own way.


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