|The Big Night|
Theatrical release lobby card
|Directed by||Joseph Losey|
|Produced by||Philip A. Waxman|
|Screenplay by||Joseph Losey|
Ring Lardner, Jr.
|Based on||the novel Dreadful Summit|
by Stanley Ellin
|Starring||John Barrymore, Jr.|
|Music by||Lyn Murray|
|Edited by||Edward Mann|
Philip A. Waxman Productions
|Distributed by||United Artists|
The Big Night is a 1951 American film noir directed by Joseph Losey, that features John Drew Barrymore, Preston Foster and Joan Lorring. The feature is based on a script written by Joseph Losey and Stanley Ellin, based on Ellin's 1948 novel Dreadful Summit. Hugo Butler and Ring Lardner, Jr. also contributed to the screenplay, but were uncredited when the film was first released.
On his son Georgie's 17th birthday, Andy LaMain is beaten with a cane by Al Judge, a crippled newspaperman. He does not fight back, confusing Georgie, who also wonders why his widower Dad's girlfriend Frances did not come to the birthday party.
Georgie gets a gun and goes looking for Judge, first in a boxing arena where he is introduced to a Dr. Cooper. They go to a jazz club and soon Georgie gets to know Cooper's girlfriend, Julie, and sister, Marion, who kisses him but hides his gun.
Finally finding Judge, he holds him at gunpoint and demands to know where Frances has gone. Judge explains that Frances was his sister and committed suicide because Georgie's father refused to marry her. A struggle for the gun ensues and Judge is shot.
The police come to arrest Andy, believing him to be the shooter until Georgie confesses. The police reveal that Judge was not shot but only suffered powder burns. Andy reveals to his son that he didn't wed Frances because he was still married to Georgie's mother. She is not dead after all, but ran off with another man.
When the film was released, film critic Bosley Crowther, panned the drama, writing, "Not only is the story presumptuous and contrived, without any clarification of character or theme, but it is directed by Joseph Losey in a provokingly ostentatious style and it is played by a cast of professionals as though it were an exercise at dramatic school. Preston Foster is funereal as the father, Howard St. John is insolent as the man who beats him up. Philip Bourneuf is bleary as a bibulous professor and Joan Lorring is sugary as a benevolent girl. Apparently everybody was concerned with theatrical effects and forgot all about a story with point and intelligence."