Night Song (1948): John Cromwell’s Melodrama,

From the Vaults

John Cromwell, a proficient studio director, helmed Night Song, a romantic melodrama about music and blindness, starring Dana Andrews, Merle Oberon and Ethel Barrymore.

Oberon plays Wealthy San Francisco socialite Cathy Mallory (Oberon), entranced by the music of nightclub pianist Dan Evans (Andrews), who is blind. He’s a bitter, broken down man, who resents Lady Bountiful’s effort to become his patron saint.

Bandleader Chick Morgan (Hoagy Carmichael) informs Cathy that Dan has quit. She arranges to meet him on a public beach as if by coincidence and introduces herself as Mary Willey, a blind woman of limited means. They strike up friendship, and Dan explains how he lost his sight from another driver’s car crash.

She and longtime companion Mrs. Willey rent an apartment, and Dan is persuaded to resume writing a piano concerto. Cathy sponsors a $5,000 prize for a contest without telling him, confident that Dan’s music will win. In which case, it will be performed at Carnegie Hall by famed pianist Arthur Rubinstein.

Dan uses the money to undergo an operation for restoring his vision.

At the contest, he meets Cathy Mallory and is attracted to her. He enjoys his newfound sight, spending time with her, but when he listens to the concert it stirs memories of Mary. He tells Chick to break the news to Cathy that he is going back to Mary. He and Chick take the train while Cathy and her aunt fly through the night.

In the improbable happy ending, when Dan arrives, he hears Mary playing his music, which makes him understand the situation. With big smile on their faces, they embrace.

RKO borrowed Dana Andrews, who is actually miscast, from Samuel Goldwyn’s company. Andrews wore special contact lenses that made his eyes appear damaged and made it impossible for him to see.

Scenes were shot in San Francisco, Trancas Beach and Lake Arrowhead, California, and in New York City.

Recycling:

Andrews reprised his role in May 29, 1950 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast, co-starring Joan Fontaine.

Panned by critics for its “incredibly mawkish plot,” as one reviewer noted, the movie was a commercial flop, recording a loss of over $1 million.

Cast
Dana Andrews as Dan Evans
Merle Oberon as Cathy Mallory / Mary Willey
Ethel Barrymore as Miss Willey
Hoagy Carmichael as Chick Morgan
Arthur Rubinstein as Himself
Eugene Ormandy as Himself
Jacqueline White as Connie
Donald Curtis as George
Walter Reed as Jimmy
Jane Jones as Mamie

Credits:

Directed by John Cromwell
Screenplay by Frank Fenton
Dick Irving Hyland
DeWitt Bodeen (adaptation)
Produced by Harriet Parsons
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Edited by Harry Marker
Music by Leith Stevens; Constantin Bakaleinikoff
Distributed by RKO Pictures
Release date: January 20, 1948
Running time 102 minutes
Box office $1.7 million