Night Must Fall (1937): Thorpe’s Oscar-Nominated Thriller Starring Robert Montgomery and Rosalind Russell

Actor Emlyn Williams’ play Night Must Fall was filmed by MGM with a good deal of integrity, and, remarkably for the times, without the usual studio-imposed happy ending.

Robert Montgomery stars as Danny, a wickedly charming Irish bellhop who wins the confidence of an elderly invalid, Mrs. Bramson  (Dame May Whitty). The old woman’s niece, Olivia Grayne,  (Rosalind Russell) is not so easily charmed by Danny, but she finds him attractive.

Is Danny a wanted murderer? Olivia is hesitant to call the police. The film’s final scene, in which Danny ambles around the house carrying a hatbox that may contain Ms. Whitty’s head, is scary.

Robert Montgomery fought with MGM to play the murderous Danny, and he was rewarded with a Best Actor nomination.

This was the film that put Russell on the map as a major talent.

“Night Must Fall” was a success, and MGM remade it in 1964 in a poor version.


Oscar Nominations: 2

Actor: Robert Montgomery

Supporting Actress: May Whitty

Oscar Awards: None

Oscar Context:

The winner of the Best Actor was Spencer Tracy for “Captains Courageous.”  The Supporting Actress Oscar went to Alice Brady for “In Old Chicago.”



Running time: 117 minutes.

Directed by Richard Thorpe

Released: April 30, 1937

DVD: June 26, 1996