Night Has a Thousand Eyes
“You tamper with Woolrich's structure (let alone his tone and style) at your peril, as Barre Lyndon and Jonathan Latimer proved with their adaptation of Woolrich's masterpiece, Night Has a Thousand Eyes. Woolrich opens with a young police officer rescuing a girl about to commit suicide. Struck by her unreasoning fear of the night and the stars, he discovers that the exact day and hour of her father's death has been foretold by a man with an uncanny knack for predicting the future. Unable to bear the agony of watching her father go slowly mad waiting for the inexorably approaching moment of his death, she tried to kill herself. Brooding over her story, already revealed as a compulsive in his own right (‘Every night he walked along the river, going home. Every night, about one' is how the novel opens and how he happens to interrupt the suicide attempt), the policeman now adds his voice to those of the girl and her father in a strange interweaving of obsessions that drives hallucinatingly and remorselessly towards its preordained end in tragedy.
“In the film, the policeman becomes the girl's fiancé, no longer compulsive but distinctly sceptical about the whole business. The plot has its back broken by the transference of the prediction from the father to the daughter: presumably an attempt to increase the pathos, but in fact destroying not only its basis but its contrapuntal expression.”
Still, on a lower level of impure entertainment, Night Has a Thousand Eyes is enjoyable hokum, with Edward G. Robinson in fine form as the mysterious clairvoyant.