Gripping, unusual Agatha Christie mystery. Splendid on all counts.
One of the rare, gratifying occasions when a mediocre book is transformed byexperts into a first-rate, memorable movie. "Endless Night" was one of Agatha Christie's last novels--also one of herleast satisfying. A macabre romance about a wealthy young American heiress(the glorious Hayley Mills in a mesmerizing, haunting performance) who fallsin love with and impulsively marries her sexy albeit mysterious chauffeur(the wonderfully versatile Hywell Bennett who teamed with Ms. Mills in twoprevious films, the tender comedic drama "The Family Way" and thestill-shocking psychosexual thriller "The Twisted Nerve").
The happy lovebirds build their dreamhouse (still an architectural wonder)in England's remote Lake District (lusciously photographed in stunningTechnicolor), away from the prying eyes of her avaricious relatives, andtheir tenderly rendered love story seems headed for a deserved happyending--until the final reel suddenly reveals a totally unexpected twistthat I guarantee will astound even the most astute mystery buff, and leavethe hapless viewer in a state of shaken anxiety and sadness. Such an unusualdenoument didn't work on the printed page; on film it's a bona fide shocker,thanks to the mastery of its two leads, a knockout turn by the stunningBritt Ekland (as one of Ms. Mills' parasitic relatives), the expertdirection by Sidney Gilliatt, and the magificently eerie soundtrack byBernard Herrmann, no less."Endless Night" was never released theatrically in the U.S. Properlypromoted, it would have made a boxoffice killing. I caught its Americanpremiere on a pay-cable station, expecting nothing (the book was hopeless)and, much to my amazement, finding myself enthralled by this classy artistictreat. Psychological thrillers don't come any better than "Endless Night,"which lulls the viewer into a state of bliss not unlike its romanticleads--until the startlingly savage twist ends the film with a disturbing(and heartbreaking) resonance.Hywell Bennett and the grown-up Hayley Mills were two of the finest (not tomention comeliest) young British actors of the late '60s and early '70s, and"Endless Night" might well be their most memorable hour-and-a-half.A must-see for mystery buffs; highly recommended for everyoneelse.