The Night of the Following Day

This tightlipped little thriller depicts the kidnapping of an adolescent girl by a rather peculiar quartet - a blond and highstrung Marlon Brando; Rita Moreno, his stupid, needle-happy girlfriend; Richard Boone, affable and sadistic; and Jess Hahn, a tired, reliable con straight out of a forties film noir. Night Of The Following Day is taken from a book by Lionel White, a favorite pulp novelist of the New Wave directors (he wrote the book Godard transformed into Pierrot Le Fou); and like the French directors, Cornfield turns the genre inside out, notably in the climactic plot twists, and in the macabre and outrageous dialogue between Brando and Boone which forms the high points of the film. Top cameraman Willy Kurant (Le Depart, Masculin-Feminine) effectively captures the dreamlike gray and marshy tones of the Northern French seacoast, broken only by unnerving flashes of blue and red. Time magazine called it “a keenly conducted seminar in the poetics of psychological terror”: the New York Times panned it as “a dull, stilted, and pointless little kidnapping melodrama.” Judge for yourself.

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