Sun 11 Dec 2011
NIGHTMARE. United Artists, 1956. Kevin McCarthy, Edward G. Robinson, Connie Russell, Virginia Christine, Rhys Williams, Gage Clarke, Marian Carr, Meade “Lux” Lewis, Billy May and His Orchestra. Screenplay by Maxwell Shane, based on a story by Cornell Woolrich. Director: Maxwell Shane. Shown at Cinecon 39, Hollywood CA, Aug-Sept 2003.
“We welcome Kevin McCarthy with a screening of this nifty noir mystery than (sic) crackles with the sense of paranoia that pervades much of Cornell Woolrich’s fiction.”
Oh, my. The film was scheduled when the program committee was unable to get permission to show Death of a Salesman. It was neither nifty nor did it crackle, but the Woolrich novel at least provided an interesting plot (musician/composer McCarthy dreams he’s committed a murder and eventually discovers the dream is apparently true), and Robinson, somewhat miscast but making the best of it, plays the detective brother-in-law of McCarthy who sifts through the damning scenario to unravel the plot that has ensnared and almost brings down McCarthy.
The location filming in New Orleans added some color to the film, and the appearance of Meade Lewis and Billy May spiced the film for their fans.
McCarthy was interviewed at some length about his film and theater career, and he was less obstreperous as an interview subject than he was reputed to be in his Hollywood years. He’s probably best known for Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but I don’t recall that he had much to say about the film.