|I have no idea what scene this is from|
Michael (Hywel Bennett) is a bit of a loser. He holds random jobs for a few weeks at a time, but inevitably walks out or gets fired. He's a bit of a dreamer, and he dreams of life as a very wealthy man. While working as a chauffeur, Michael befriends a world-class architect, the peculiar-looking Santonix (Per Oscarsson), and the two idly come up with some grand plans for a fabulous home (which Michael could never afford) on Michael 's favorite piece of real estate (which Michael will never own).
|Architect or cubist Picasso inspiration? You decide|
|Michael, having the tough news broken to him|
|Yeah, I'd hate to have her live with me|
|Please please please let Beetlejuice be responsible|
I was never a big fan of Haley Mills as a child actress, but she's a little better than I expected in Endless Night. Her character is very sweet and innocent, but I was surprised to not find her annoying. Well, not too annoying. On an amusing note, when Haley sings, her voice was dubbed over by Shirley Jones; so, when you see the scene and think "Gee, her lips and throat don't quite match the operatic voice in this scene," you are absolutely correct. When I have to start by praising the mediocre talent of a former Disney star, you can tell that the acting is not great. Specifically, Hywel Bennett was consistently awful. The script has a few opportunities for Michael to seem sympathetic or likable, but Bennett manages to deadpan his way through every chance he got. I understand that he needs to be a little mysterious for the mystery at the story's center, but there's a big difference between being bland and reserved. Britt Ekland was also horrid. Ekland isn't typically in films for her acting talent, but she really shouldn't be asked to cry on cue; her "acting" made me wince on multiple occasions. George Sanders was fine, but sorely underused as the only cast member that understood the concept of subtlety. On the bright side, this was the first time I saw Lois Maxwell outside of a James Bond film; all she does is give Michael the cold shoulder, but it showed more range than I thought her capable of.
|Miss Moneypenny disapproves|
Endless Night was directed and adapted for the screen by Sidney Gillat. Gillat had a long career, primarily as a writer (including a few early Hitchcock films, like The Lady Vanishes), but if this is a representative example of his directorial skills, he should have stuck with his typewriter. I will admit that a decent amount of the problem with Endless Night is Christie's source novel --- it focused on psychology instead of mystery --- but Gillat did absolutely nothing to save the concept. Michael is the narrator, and it is clear that he is an unreliable narrator; Gillat could have run with that idea, having Michael reconstruct scenes when he is caught narrating a lie, forcing the audience to wonder how much of this story actually happened. That's not the route Gillat goes. Instead, Michael just bookends the story in a very loose way. Even worse, the introductory bookend was wretched; coming across as hilariously melodramatic and just plain goofy. Of course, as director, you can also blame Gillat for getting such wooden performances from his cast, too.
|"You want us to...act?!?"|
|He did, however, build an ugly house for this movie|
Even with poor direction and embarrassing acting, Endless Night could have stood out for its twist/reveal/mystery. Had Gillat fostered the notion of Michael as an unreliable narrator, the reveal toward the end could have been fairly cool. Instead, it seems less the work of a dastardly genius and more like a sitcom plot. Bad story, bad acting and a lame twist lead to a bad movie. On the other hand, there is a certain amount of kitsch value to a film with such a ridiculous house, a scene where Haley Mills has no face, and Britt Ekland has the least convincing crying-changing-into-laughter scene ever. This is definitely a bad movie that has aged poorly, but you can laugh at it for a small bit of enjoyment.