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Fear in the Night


A film noir shocker, based on the story Nightmare by Cornell Woorlich, in which average Joe Vince Grayson (De Forest Kelley) dreams he murders someone and wakes up to find it may not have been a dream. This is worth it for the clever plot twists alone.

Fear in the Night is a 1947 American low budget black-and-white film noir mystery film directed by Maxwell Shane and starring Paul Kelly (actor) and DeForest Kelley (in his film debut). It is based on the Cornell Woolrich story "And So to Death" (retitled '"Nightmare" in 1943). Woolrich is credited under pen name William Irish.<>.</> The film was remade by the same director in 1956 with the title Nightmare (1956 movie) this time starring Edward G. Robinson playing the cop and Kevin McCarthy (actor).<>.</>


Bank teller Vince Grayson (DeForest Kelley) dreams that he stabs a man in an octagonal room of mirrors and locks the body in a closet. When he wakes up, he discovers marks on his throat, a strange key and a button in his pocket, and blood on his cuff. Cliff Herlihy (Paul Kelly), his police officer brother-in-law, tries to convince him it was just a dream.
A few days later, while trying to find cover from the rain, the pair finds themselves taking shelter in the strange house from Vince's dream. They discover that the police found two bodies in the house, one in the mirrored room and one run over in the driveway. Mrs. Belknap, who was run over by a car, gave the police a description matching Vince before she died.
At first Vince is hopeful that he is innocent because he does not know how to drive, but he recognizes the victims from his dream. Overcome with remorse, he attempts suicide, but is rescued by Cliff. The detective uncovers clues that point to an evil hypnotist (Robert Emmett Keane) manipulating Vince. They realize that the hypnotist is actually Mr. Belknap in disguise and try to trap him by pretending that Vince wants hush money.
Belknap puts Vince under hypnosis and tries to get him to drown himself. Cliff rescues him from the lake and Mr. Belknap is killed in a car accident as he is trying to evade the police. It is implied that Vince will be acquitted of all charges since he killed the man in the mirrored room in self-defense.


  • Paul Kelly (actor) as Cliff Herlihy
  • DeForest Kelley as Vince Grayson
  • Ann Doran as Lil Herlihy
  • Kay Scott as Betty Winters
  • Charles Victor as Captain Warner
  • Robert Emmett Keane as Lewis Belknap, aka Harry Byrd
  • Jeff York as Deputy Torrence


=Critical response=

When the film was released the film critic for The New York Times panned the film, writing, "Fear in the Night, a minor shocker which opened at the Rialto yesterday, is just about as ridiculous as any that comes in this line ... It is not only silly but rather dull. DeForest Kelley is dopey as the fall guy and Paul Kelly is brisk as his detective friend."

See also

  • List of films in the public domain

  • =Streaming audio=

  • Nightmare] on
    Category:1947 films
    Category:1940s thriller films
    Category:American films
    Category:Black-and-white films
    Category:English-language films
    Category:Film noir
    Category:Films based on short fiction
    Category:Films directed by Maxwell Shane
    Category:Paramount Pictures films
  • More Public Domain Movies