Agatha Christie’s Endless Night

June 28, 2013 - Comment

Hayley Mills stars as a wealthy heiress who marries her mysterious yet ambitious chauffeur. Searching for their “dream house,” the couple move into a palatial country estate that is rumored to be cursed. But when murder begins to make itself at home, the stage is set for a stunning climax that even hardcore Christie fans

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Hayley Mills stars as a wealthy heiress who marries her mysterious yet ambitious chauffeur. Searching for their “dream house,” the couple move into a palatial country estate that is rumored to be cursed. But when murder begins to make itself at home, the stage is set for a stunning climax that even hardcore Christie fans consider one of her most surprising – and shocking-twists ever. George Sanders, Britt Ekland, Per Oscarsson, Hywel Bennett and Lois Maxwell costar in this dark and gripping mystery thriller, masterfully adapted from the novel that Agatha Christie considered one of her personal favorites.

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True-blue Agatha Christie fans know better than anyone that the creator of Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot did not always write crime-solving procedurals. Endless Night, published in 1968, is a perfect example of the moody, psychological thriller Christie sometimes explored, particularly in the late years of her career. This 1972 adaptation, scripted and directed by seasoned British filmmaker Sidney Gilliat, is indeed a strange duck: a compelling tale of small, unsettling phenomena and events, but with no defining mystery, no apparent crime to pull the details together–not until quite late in the story, that is. Hayley Mills and Hywel Bennett, partnered together in several films (The Family Way, Twisted Nerve) during the 1960s and ’70s, play an American heiress and an underemployed London chauffeur who marry and move into a dream house designed for them by a world-class architect (Per Oscarsson). In short order, things begin to get mighty weird. A crazy old woman stomps around the couple’s property, whispering ambiguous warnings. The bride’s nuisance of a sister (Britt Ekland) moves in, and a handful of disapproving relatives keep popping up to belittle the hero. Where this is all leading is entirely unexpected–Christie and Gilliat really have us falling without a parachute for a while–yet it’s exciting and tragic all at once. Nice performances all around, with special admiration for Oscarsson’s role as the dying architect. –Tom Keogh

Comments

C. Cook says:

BUY IT FOR THE SCORE ALONE Before I discuss the film itself, I have to mention Bernard Herrmann’s classic score. At a time in his career when mainstream Hollywood turned its back on Herrmann, smaller, independent or British films embraced this veteran of the studio system days. And here, in “Endless Night,” Herrmann did some of his best, most mature work. The score is amazing, a symphony of synthesizers and orchestral music as only Herrmann could put together. And who could forget Shirley Jones (dubbing for Hayley…

Robin Simmons says:

Not Typical Christie Who Dunnit “ENDLESS NIGHT” Is this the best Agatha Christie film? Many of her hard-core fans think so.

Matthew Newland says:

” … und doon’t fourgett mah green sheeld stahmps!” ” … und doon’t fourgett mah green sheeld stahmps!”(My title comes from a line a Scottish customer says to our protagonist, Mike, while we see him at work at a filling station.)I read the book “Endless Night” a couple years back … it was my former girlfriend and now fiancée’s very favorite Agatha Christie novel, and she gave it to me to read as soon as she was done. I found it a most unusual book … very unlike the other works of her’s that I had read, and a…

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