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  Endless Night Marry In Haste, Repent At Leisure
Year: 1971
Director: Sidney Gilliat
Stars: Hayley Mills, Hywel Bennett, Britt Ekland, Per Oscarsson, George Sanders, Peter Bowles, Lois Maxwell, David Bauer, Patience Collier, Aubrey Richards, Madge Ryan, Helen Horton, Ann Way, Windsor Davies, David Healy, Robert Keegan, Walter Gotell
Genre: Horror, Drama, Thriller, RomanceBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: Michael (Hywel Bennett) is asked to tell the story from the beginning, but he resists, and tells it from the middle instead. He was working as a chauffeur and liked to spend his time off visiting museums and auction houses where he could kid himself that he could afford the antiques on sale - for just one moment as he offered the highest bid the valuable objects belonged to him. He has a dream of owning a stretch of land in Wales known as Gypsy's Acre which is up for sale, and he happens to discuss it with a rich, continental architect, Santonix (Per Oscarsson), his job has brought him into contact with. They agree that if he ever finds the money, Santonix will build him his ideal home there, and when Michael is out at the location, he meets a young woman who might just be able to help him...

Endless Night was one of Agatha Christie's later thrillers, and the last film of one half of the celebrated British team of Frank Launder and Sidney Gilliat, with a change of tack from all those St Trinian's comedies they were well known for. Indeed, although Alfred Hitchcock, perhaps suprisingly, didn't have much to do with adapting Christie's whodunnits to the screen, it's obviously the great director who they are attempting to emulate with this work, even going as far as hiring Bernard Herrmann to compose the music (including a Moog synthesiser which Hitchcock would never have accepted, I'm sure) and having Rebecca-style opening lines, among other things.

For most of the film, you could kindly regard the story as a psychological thriller, except someone forgot to order the thrills and it's more of a romance with off-kilter aspects. You keep waiting for the twist, but as an hour goes by with little approaching suspense, could it be possible that there isn't one? Well, this is true to its source, and there is a revelation at the end that causes the viewer to reassess all that has gone before, but in the meantime it's mainly a love story across the class divide. The young woman who Michael meets is Ellie (Hayley Mills), who charms him immediately thanks to him catching her indulging in a spot of impromptu dancing through the fields. She is taken aback when she notices him at first, but soon they are on very friendly terms, snacking at the local inn and making plans to meet once again.

Ellie is an American, which means Mills has to battle with an accent, and she has a secret of her own that she's keeping from Michael, something he finds out when he happens to pick up the newspaper on the day of their next meeting. She is in fact the sixth richest girl in the world, and after he gets over the shock and indignation, she wins him over and they decide they're in love and swiftly marry. This gives Santonix all the excuse he needs to build his house for them at Gypsy's Acre, and it's the most up-to-date model imaginable, i.e. now it looks ludicrously tacky with its swimming pool in the living room and one way windows. There are hints at intrigue when the local mad woman hangs around the grounds staring at the house, and Ellie's family are none too happy at the new addition to the clan, but when that twist comes it's only a shock because it seems to arrive from another film. Endless Night is a curious try at a psycho killer shocker due to the characters being more appropriate for the plot's first three quarters and awkwardly fitted into new roles for the last twenty minutes.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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