NOTHING BUT THE NIGHT. Rank Film Distributors / Charlemagne Productions, UK, 1973. Christopher Lee (Colonel Bingham), Peter Cushing (Sir Mark Ashley), Diana Dors, Georgia Brown, Keith Barron, Gwyneth Strong. Based on the novel by John Blackburn. Director: Peter Sasdy.

   When Martin Edwards recently reviewed this movie on his blog, he praised it in part (“It’s fair to say that the whole is less than the sum of its considerable parts.”) but in part only. What caught my attention was how he did his best to talk around the actual plot of the movie without ever talking about exactly what kind of movie it is. Obviously he didn’t quite succeed because I tend to notice little things like that, and I wondered why.

   Well, now I know, and in my review in turn, I’m going to do the same exact thing. But if you know who John Blackburn, the author of the book the film was based on, and the kind of books he wrote, then you will know what it is that I’m going to do my best not to say.

   The story begins with a series of murders to various trustees of an orphanage located on a small island of the shore of Scotland. They all appear to be accidents or suicides, but we the viewer know better. But when a young girl who is also one of the orphans is involved in a bus accident later on begins to have unexplained nightmares and hallucinations, her doctor becomes suspicious. He calls upon his superior (Peter Cushing) for help, who in turn is abetted by a retired police officer (Christopher Lee) who has taken an interest in the case.

   Complicating matters is that the girl’s mother (a most floozy Diana Dors) wants back the custody of her child, and to that end, calls upon a lady journalist (Georgia Brown) for help. At which point a rather conventional murder story turns into … whatever it turns into, and in the most traditional way of telling such a story, and in the way the British seem to do it best.

   It’s a great cast, and the photography is excellent. The ending is suitably chilling, and it would be even more so if there were not so many holes in the plot. They can be ignored, but a tighter (and more realistic) hold on the story on the part of the screenwriter would have improved things immensely.

   It’s still a fun movie to watch, and I have Martin Edwards’ review of it to thank for having brought it to my attentions.