Based on the short story "Nightmare" aka "And So to Death" by William Irish (Cornell Woolrich), Fear in the Night (1947) is about Vincent Grayson (DeForest Kelley) who dreams he has murdered someone, then wonders if the dream was real. His brother-in-law Cliff (Paul Kelly) is a police detective who at first won't countenance the possibility that the dream was real.
The nightmare that starts the film off is wonderfully surreal, & it's great to see the young DeForest Kelly doing something cool long before he was Dr. McCoy on Star Trek.
When Vince & his family take emergency shelter during a storm in a mansion with a mirrored room, he seems certainly to have found the location of his nightmare.
Well-acted with an effective sense of paranoia & a couple odd twists of plot, this is an entertaining even though minor film noir.
Fear in the Night director Maxwell Shane remade his film in 1956 reverting to the story's original title, Nightmare.
Keven McCarthy is Stan Grayson rather than Vince, who kills a man in his dream then becomes more & more fearful it really happened. His homicide detective brother-in-law is ably played by Edward G. Robinson.
Maxwell Shane obviously rethought how to film the story in the intervening decade, & makes numerous improvements, so the remake is the better film, though both have merits.
The hallucinatory nightmare that starts the film is more frenetic in this version, & shots around New Orleans give it a stronger purer urban film noir flavor.
Having the dreamer as jazz musician rather than a bank teller as in the first version gives him much more character-interest. And the way jazz is used as an actual part of Stan's experiences in & out of his dream-state, in a manner that is downright clever.
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