Endless Night. Starring Hywel Bennett and Hayley Mills. Directed/Produced by Launder & Gilliat. Based on the novel by Agatha Christie. Cert. ‘AA’ Distributed by British Lion.
Launder and Gilliat, the director-producer team of many successful British films were ill advised. Someone obviously thought of the long success Agatha Christie has had with THE MOUSETRAP must have dug through her novels in hopes of finding a suitable new film subject and they came across ENDLESS NIGHT.
The first twenty minutes are spent establishing the character of Hywel Bennett playing a chauffeur to the rich. He is seen first bidding for an expensive painting and a few moments later donning his working hat – the first ‘surprise’ twist, proving he is merely a working man after all. Soon after he is admiring the landscape somewhere in Southern England and taking photographs there. Enter our heroine, an American girl played by, of all people, Hayley Mills. She attempts an American drawl for a few moments and then gives up the game, going back to her arch accent.
Courtship follows by long distance and soon after our hero and heroine are wed. It is then established that Hayley is one of the richest girls in the world and of course her step mother is much against her marrying a chauffeur. But love overcomes all and they duly move into their dream house built on the site where they first met by a dying Swedish architect. No sooner have they begun to settle down to wedded bliss than Hayley’s former companion-secretary arrives, played prettily but without any talent by Britt Eckland.
The in-laws move into the district and Hayley’s step father is often seen riding a horse in the grounds. Also an old girl keeps appearing from nowhere with mysterious threats about the ground being unlucky. By now an hour has parsed and very little has occurred.
It wouldn’t really be fair to divulge what does occur without giving the plot away, but I can say that Miss Christie has one of her last-minute twists up her sleeve which manages to give an opportunity for some of today’s in-style violence to be shown. Hywel Bennett manages fairly well but Hayley Mills seems a bit stumped by her role, accent and dubbed singing voice. Poor old George Sanders makes a farewell appearance as the family lawyer and Per Oscarson does the best he can with the dying architect. The running time is around 100 minutes but for me it certainly seemed an endless night.