The Long Night (1947 film)

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The Long Night
theatrical release poster
Directed by Anatole Litvak
Produced by Anatole Litvak
Raymond Hakim
Robert Hakim
Screenplay by Jacques Viot
John Wexley
Based on the screenplay of Le Jour Se Lève 
by Jacques Prévert
Jacques Viot
Starring Henry Fonda
Barbara Bel Geddes
Vincent Price
Ann Dvorak
Music by Dimitri Tiomkin
Cinematography Sol Polito
Edited by Robert Swink
Distributed by RKO Pictures
Release date(s)
  • August 6, 1947 (1947-08-06) (US)[1]
Running time 101 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Long Night is a 1947 American film noir directed by Anatole Litvak and produced by RKO. It is a remake of Le Jour Se Lève (1939) by Marcel Carné. The drama stars Henry Fonda, Barbara Bel Geddes, Vincent Price and Ann Dvorak.[2]

The Long Night was the first screen appearance by character actress Barbara Bel Geddes and it served as a springboard for Bel Geddes's career. RKO signed Bel Geddes to a seven-year contract.[3]


A dead man tumbles down a flight of stairs. When the police arrive at the top-floor apartment of Joe Adams (Henry Fonda), he shoots at them through the door.

The sheriff calls in reinforcements and sets up snipers on nearby rooftops. Adams, in his room, begins a recollection of the events leading up to this, beginning with his first chance encounter with Jo Ann (Barbara Bel Geddes), who works in a flower shop. It turns out they had been raised in the same orphanage.

Finding her behavior suspicious, he follows her to a nightclub where Maximilian the Great (Vincent Price)is performing a magic act on stage. At the bar, Joe gets to know Charlene (Ann Dvorak), who recently quit as Max's assistant.

Max claims to be Jo Ann's long-lost father. She was picked out of the audience one night by Charlene and brought on stage to take part in the act, then continued a relationship. Jo Ann fiercely denies to Joe, however, that Max is related to her. In fact, she insists that she had to physically fend off Max's romantic advances to her.

The two women have feelings for Joe but leave him mystified, particularly when both appear to have received exactly the same brooch from Max as a gift. He is not sure whom to trust, and when Max comes to his apartment to kill him, Joe shoots first, sending Max falling to his death.

Police are about to smoke him out with tear gas when Jo Ann arrives. She manages to talk Joe into giving himself up, promising to wait for him if he is sent away to prison.



When RKO acquired the distribution rights to Le Jour Se Lève in preparation for remaking it as The Long Night, they also sought to buy up all available prints of the original film and destroy them. For a time, it was thought that the French film had been lost completely, but copies of it re-appeared in the 1950s and its classic status was re-established.[4]

The score for the film makes extensive use of the second movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony.



The film recorded a loss of $1 million.[5]

Critical response[edit]

A Life magazine review at the time blamed "Hollywood commercialism and the stultifying institution of censorship" for the film's poor quality, noting that, "because anything having to do with incest is banned from U.S. films by censors and because Hollywood considers sad endings unprofitable, a moving and mature tragedy has been remade into melodramatic goulash."[6]



  1. ^ "The Long Night: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved April 30, 2014. 
  2. ^ The Long Night at the Internet Movie Database.
  3. ^ The Long Night at the TCM Movie Database
  4. ^ International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers: 1: Films; ed. by Nicholas Thomas; 2nd ed. (Chicago, London: St James Press, 1990.) p.447.
  5. ^ Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p221
  6. ^ "Movie of the Week: The Long Night". Life: 139. 6 October 1947. Retrieved : August 11, 2013. 

External links[edit]