Still of the Night (film)

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Still of the Night
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Benton
Produced by Arlene Donovan
Written by Robert Benton
David Newman (story)
Starring Roy Scheider
Meryl Streep
Jessica Tandy
Josef Sommer
Music by John Kander
Cinematography Néstor Almendros
Edited by Gerald B. Greenberg
Bill Pankow
Distributed by MGM/UA Entertainment
Release date
November 19, 1982 (1982-11-19)
Running time
93 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $10 million
Box office $5,979,947 (Domestic)

Still of the Night is a 1982 American psychological thriller film directed by Robert Benton and starring Roy Scheider, Meryl Streep, Joe Grifasi, and Jessica Tandy. It was written by Benton and David Newman. Scheider plays a psychiatrist who falls in love with a woman (Streep) who may be the psychopathic killer of one of his patients.

The film is considered as an overt homage to Hitchcock, emulating scenes from many of his movies: a bird attacks one character, a scene takes place in an auction, someone falls from a height, stuffed birds occupy a room, and an important plot point is the interpretation of a dream. Meryl Streep's hair is styled much like Eva Marie Saint's was in North by Northwest, and the town of Glen Cove features in both films. According to some reviewers at the time of the release, the screenplay displays subtle references to various Hitchcock's films.


Manhattan psychiatrist Dr. Sam Rice is visited by glamorous, enigmatic Brooke Reynolds, who works at Crispin's—a fictitious New York auction house modeled after Christie's. Brooke was having an affair with one of Rice's patients, George Bynum, who has just been murdered. Brooke asks the doctor to return a watch to Bynum's wife and not reveal the affair.

Rice is visited by NYPD Detective Joseph Vitucci but refuses to give any information on Bynum, a patient for two years. After the police warn him that he could become a target because the killer may believe he knows something, Rice reviews the case files detailing Bynum's affairs with various women at Crispin's, including Brooke. Bynum had also expressed concern, claiming a wealthy friend had once killed someone, and Bynum was the only person who knew about this. He wondered if this friend might kill again.

The police believe Bynum's killer is a woman. Rice gradually falls for Brooke but believes he is being followed. He is mugged by someone who takes his coat, whereupon the mugger is killed in the same manner as Bynum.

Rice tries to interpret clues from the case file with his psychiatrist mother, Grace, including a strange dream of Bynum's in which he finds a green box in a cabinet in a dark house and is then chased up a narrow staircase by a little girl carrying a bleeding teddy bear.

Brooke's behavior becomes increasingly suspicious. Rice tails her to a family estate on Long Island. She explains her guilt in the accidental death of her father, and claims Bynum threatened to reveal this secret if she broke off their affair.

Rice pieces together that Bynum's previous girlfriend was Gail Phillips, an assistant to Bynum at Crispin's. Gail blames Brooke for her breakup with Bynum. Gail is trying to frame Brooke and she has killed Vitucci. Now she arrives at the estate to kill Brooke and Rice.

As they are about to leave, Brooke forgets her keys and goes back into the dark house, alone, to retrieve them, while Rice waits in his car. Gail appears in the back seat of the car and stabs Rice with a knife. Gail then chases Brooke through the house, recapitulating Bynum's dream. Brooke narrowly escapes, as Gail falls to her death over a railing. Rice is not seriously hurt and is embraced by Brooke.




Still of the Night received an aggregate score of 67% fresh from the website. A review in Variety stated: "It comes as almost a shock to see a modern suspense picture that's as literate, well acted and beautifully made as Still Of The Night. Despite its many virtues, however, Robert Benton's film has its share of serious flaws, mainly in the area of plotting".

In his Nov. 19, 1982 review for the New York Times, Vincent Canby explained that the screenplay "makes inescapable references to such Hitchcock classics as Vertigo, Rear Window, North by Northwest and Spellbound".

When Meryl Streep was interviewed by Andy Cohen on "Watch What Happens Live", he asked her to name one bad film she made. She said, "Uh, Still of the Night." When Cohen inquired what the film was about, Streep's response was, "Never mind." [1]


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