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Night of the Following Day, The
Directed by Hubert Cornfield (with help from an uncredited Richard Boone, who was also one of the leading men in the film!), 1969's The Night Of The Following Day is based on the 1953 novel The Snatch penned by Lionel White (whose novel Obsession was kinda-sorta turned into the excellent Pierrot le Fou by Godard and whose Clean Break was turned into Stanley Kubrick's The Killing... there's a reason he's thanked in the credits of Reservoir Dogs!).
An eighteen-year-old woman, never addressed by name (Pamela Franklin), arrives at the airport in Paris where a Chauffeur (Marlon Brandon) greets her. Once she gets into his car, she realizes that he's an imposter, but it's too late, she's been kidnapped by this man, Bud, and his crew. The girl has no idea who Bud is but she does recognize his amiable blonde girlfriend, Vi (Rita Moreno), as one of the flight attendants who was working on the plane she just disembarked from. The girl quickly ascertains that Wally (Jesse Hahn) is one of Bud's friends and very likely the brains behind the operation, while Leer (Richard Boone) is more than likley the muscle. Though Leer may seem calm, cool and collected on the surface, the girl senses a darkness and intensity to him... and she isn't wrong.
The kidnappers bring the girl to the coast of Normandy where they hide out in a small cottage. They get in touch with her father (Hugues Wanner) and make it clear that if he wants to see his daughter again, he'll have to pay up. Arrangements are made to make that happen. As time passes, we start to notice that the kidnappers aren't quite getting along with one another as well as they initially were. Leer, in particular, starts making some forceful sexual advances on their captive, caring not that she's much younger than he, and more than likely preferring that. Vi's substance abuse issues become a problem while Bud and Wally vie for control over the situation. It soon becomes clear that Leer is only out for himself, while Vi's irresponsible behavior brings the gang into contact with a local policeman. With forty-eight hours to go until the job is finished and the payoff is made, while they make it?
The Night Of The Following Day is quite tense, a really solid thriller with some nice twists and turns that keep the plot interesting and surprising. At ninety-three minutes in length, Cornfield manages to keep the pace taut right from the opening scene where we pretty much immediately know that something is wrong as soon as our kidnapped girls does. The tension builds nicely not just because of the way that the situation unfolds but because of the character development as well, it's clever and nuanced and while we wouldn't necessarily want to associate with these characters, we certainly do want to find out how their story ends.
The acting in the picture is strong. Pamela Franklin is very good as the victim, we feel for her, she's a victim of circumstance and not a fool who stumbled into this situation because of any real mistakes that she made. Her acting is very good. Rita Moreno as Bud's cokehead girlfriend also goes good work here, as does Hahn. That said, it'll surprise nobody to know that Boone and Brando are the two real stars of the film, both of these storied and talented actors turning things up in terms of the intensity of their performances. They may come close to chewing the scenery here but never quite pass that line, and Boone in particular is genuinely frightening in a few key scenes, playing his sexually predatory character with unsettling believability.
The Night Of The Following Day arrives on Region A Blu-ray from Kino Lorber Studios in AVC encoded 1080p high definition framed at 1.85.1 with the feature given 29.4BS of space on the 50GB disc. The picture quality is very strong on this disc (save for two spots at the forty and seventy-five minute marks that look to be inserts from a noticeably inferior source), there's a lot of appreciable detail noticeable throughout the movie and color reproduction looks excellent. We get nice, deep black levels while shadow detail is pretty nice in the film's darker scenes. Skin tones look nice and lifelike, and there are no problems with any compression artifacts, edge enhancement or noise reduction issues.
A 16-bit English language DTS-HD options is provided in 2.0 Mono format. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. No problems with the audio here, it sounds clean and properly balanced. There are no issues with any hiss or distortion the score sounds quite strong and the sound effects are punchy when they should be while dialogue stays easily discernable from start to finish.
Extras start off with a new audio commentary film historian Tim Lucas. It's delivered in his typically meticulously researched fashion and offers up a load of information including details and background information on the cast and crew, the locations, the score, the script, the film's distribution and more. A second commentary from director Hubert Cornfield is also included on the disc. This track goes over a lot of Cornfield's personal experiences working on the film, noting how he got along with the actors, the crew members, and more.
Aside from that, we get a Trailers From Hell entry hosted by Joe Dante, a trailer for the feature, menus and chapter selection options.
The Night Of The Following Day defies genre expectations and throws a few genuinely unexpected twists into its running time to make for an enjoyable thriller made all the better thanks to the great work from both Richard Boone and Marlon Brando. Kino's Blu-ray presents the film in nice shape with two very worthwhile commentary tracks to cover the film's history. Highly recommended.
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.