An outstanding film noir programmer, SO DARK THE NIGHT is set in a small provincial village in France and stars Geray as a respected super sleuth from the Paris Surete. Taking his first vacation in 11 years, Geray travels to a family-run inn out in the country. There he meets and falls
in love with the beautiful young Cheirel, the daughter of inn owners Borden and Codee. Encouraged by her mercenary mother, Cheirel responds to Geray's romantic advances despite the fact that she is engaged to local farmer Marion. The middle-aged detective soon proposes to the pretty young girl and
she accepts. Not to be denied, an angry Marion informs Geray that if the wedding takes place, he will hound Cheirel and never give their marriage a moment's peace. Realizing that she truly loves Marion, Cheirel deserts Geray and runs off with the farmer. The next day the couple is found murdered.
Outraged that killers would dare test his investigative powers by murdering his bride-to-be, Geray becomes obsessed with solving the crimes. With only a muddy footprint as a clue, he helps the local police with the investigation. Soon after, Cheirel's mother, Codee, is found murdered as well.
Frustrated by his lack of progress, Geray goes back to Paris to give the experienced police artist a try at identifying the killer from the footprint. What the artist comes up with is deeply disturbing to Geray--the killer greatly resembles him. Shaken, Geray tries writing with his left hand and
is horrified when the handwriting exactly matches the notes the killer has left. Convinced he has a split personality, Geray turns himself in. Unfortunately, the strain of custody causes Geray's evil side to become dominant and he escapes the prison. Returning to the inn, he is caught by police
and fatally shot just as he is about to kill the owner, Borden. As he lies dying, Geray sees his face as it was when he first arrived on holiday in the inn's window. The good and evil images merge into one and, with the last of his strength, Geray smashes the reflections, thus "catching" the
Despite the failure of this low-budget Hollywood production to convincingly portray its French setting, SO DARK THE NIGHT is an engrossing crime drama that succeeds on many levels. As a character study it is amazingly complex and draws a detailed portrait of the tortured detective played by Geray.
The age-old conflict of a lawman becoming so embroiled in catching criminals that he begins to think like one is taken to its extreme here by having the master detective actually become the hunter and the hunted. On a visual level the film is extremely effective, making brilliant use of light,
shadow, rain, and a motif of frames within frames that trap the characters in their environment. SO DARK THE NIGHT is a bit obscure but well worth uncovering.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: An outstanding film noir programmer, SO DARK THE NIGHT is set in a small provincial village in France and stars Geray as a respected super sleuth from the Paris Surete. Taking his first vacation in 11 years, Geray travels to a family-run inn out in the cou… (more)