Endless Night - Endless Night(Blu Ray) [Powerhouse - 2020]Endless Night is a slowly unfurling mystery/thriller, which for much of its runtime plays like a drama romance, save for the fleeting stabs of troubling imagery & very subtle touches of dread. The films a lesser-seen 1970ís British production based on a Agatha Christie novel, and here itís getting a deserved Blu Ray reissues by the folks at Powerhouse.
Appearing in 1972 Endless Night(aka Agatha Christie's Endless Night) was the fourteenth & final film from English director, screenwriter, and producer Sidney Gilliat- who before this had helming wartime dramas/ romances, Crime mysteries, a bio-drama about Gilbert and Sullivan, and one of the latter St. Trinian's sequels. Endless Night is certainly a well-scoped & shot film, that often utilizes landscape to great dramatic effect- though it does take a long time to fully develop & realize the taut 'n' tense thriller elements that the films title and poster artwork suggests.
After a decidedly trippy & quick flash of faceless women stood on a rolling British landscape- we get introduced to our lead character- seeming happy-go-lucky Micheal Rogers (Hywel Bennett)- who fleets between jobs, though at the time we meet him heís a chauffeur. Heís also very much of a dreamer and keeps returning to Gipsy's Acre- a plot of land that looks over a landscape rolling hills & the coast off in the distance- where he dreams of building a house. During one of his jobs on the continent he meets & befriends highly respected-but-critical ill architect Santonix(Per Oscarsson)- he asks Michael to take pictures of the sight & send them to him. So when he goes back Gipsy's Acre he encounters rich-yet-eccentric young American women Ellie Thomsen(Hayley Mills) who is dancing on the hill, the pair soon click & a relationship develops- with them fairly soon getting married. And in due course, they build their dream house on Gipsy's Acre, with Santonix designing the house which comes across as almost a James Bound villains house with its indoor swimming pool under a slide in & out floor, and dark glass one-way widows. Fairly soon it seems that there is someone who doesnít want the pair living there, with it starting with broken windows then escalating to even murder- so whose doing it- is it the strange cats on a lead older woman who lives nearby, one of Ellie's jealous family, or someone else.
The film unfolds at a very slow, considered, yet fairly intriguing manner with the Michael Rogers character telling the story- from time- we get flashes back to the past, and possible future events in the story & the characters outcome- along the way some of these are fairly troubling, and they get even more so the deeper in we go. Bennett is great in the role of the lead-moving effectively between enduring, troubled & panicked. Mills' American accent is not great, though she does portray the naive rich girl well. We get a great supporting cast from the likes of Peter Bowles as the creepy brother in law, a young-looking Winsor Davis as the villages policeman, and Britt Ekland as Ellieís interfering friend.
Endless Night is certainly a well made & cast film, and you get a rather inventive soundtrack mixing together Bernard Herrmann's grand & dramatic string scoring with elements of baying & screaming Moog touches. Sure the pace/ point of the whole thing takes a long time to resolve, and at points, one wonders if it ever will be, as itís only in the last twenty or so minutes of this one hour & forty-minute things are cleared up. But itís worth hanging in there for the very surprising twist in the tail. On the whole, Iíd say if you enjoy very slow revealing English thrillers, with some nice subversive toches along the way then Iíd say youíll enjoy what we have here.
On the extras side we get a good collection of fascinating new features- starting off we get a seven-minute on-camera interview with Hayley Mills- here she talks about working on location on the Isle Of Wight, working with Bennett for the third time, and getting drinking tips from Ekland. Next, we get a twelve-minute on-camera interview with Howard Blake- who played the Moog on the film soundtrack- here he talks about buying the first Mini Moog from Doctor Moog, his relationship with Herrmann who he did a fair bit of other work with. Lastly, we get a sixteen-minute featurette with film historian Neil Sinyard- and this is the highlight of the new extras, as it sees him focusing in on Herrmann- first he talks about how his scores rather changed the way films where scored in the 1940s, going onto discuss his original way of using orchestration & the interesting additions he made. Latter of course he talks about the score for Endless Night, before finishing on talking about his last few mid 70ís scores including his last score for Taxi Driver.
We also get some archive stuff- taking in a hundred-minute audio-only interview with the director from 1990, and a 1972 interview with Herrmann that runs just shy of an hour. Lastly we, of course, get a image gallery & trailer.
You have go into Endless Night ready for a slow, but a well-made film that has the occasional sparks of troubling images, and a very effective donít-see-it-coming twist. Also, itís certainly one of the more lightly subversive & vaguely trippy films Iíve seen made from an Agatha Christie story- so take from that what you willÖjust donít pick this up expecting a terminal tight, taut & edgy thriller- because thatís far from what much of Endless Night is.Roger Batty