One director who has fallen through the cracks over the years is Hubert Cornfield. In his few Hollywood movies in the 1950’s and 1960’s, he demonstrated a very good mastery of the film noir genre which, of course would pave the way for the neo-noir subgenre to follow. In his last Hollywood film, The Night of the Following Day, he was partnered with Marlon Brando, who was nearing the tail end of his career doldrums. Previously released on DVD by Universal, Kino has licensed the film for its Blu-ray debut here in America.
The Production: 4/5
Upon arriving in Paris, a teenage girl (Pamela Franklin) is promptly kidnapped by a group of disparate characters looking to collect a ransom from the girl’s wealthy father. Holed up in a beachside cottage, the plan goes along smoothly until some of the group’s character flaws start to bubble up to the surface. Leer (Richard Boone) is a loose cannon who has eyes for the girl, Vi (Rita Moreno) is a stewardess whose drug use starts to interfere with the operation, Wally (Jess Hicks) heads up the plan but doesn’t appear to have the courage or fortitude to hold things together when they start falling apart, and Bud the chauffeur (Marlon Brando) has to be both the girl’s protector and the glue to hold everything together. When the sun sets after the following day, either the kidnapping plot will make the group rich or send everyone six feet under…
As one of the titles in the neo-noir genre before critics began to take notice in the 1970’s, The Night of the Following Day serves as a bridge between the classic Hollywood style and the more hard hitting edge of later entries in the genre. Interestingly enough, Stanley Kubrick planned to make this film adaptation of the Lionel White novel The Snatchers his Hollywood debut following Killer’s Kiss (1955); however, Hollywood’s informal ban on depicting kidnapping on film during the 1950’s basically precluded that from happening. However, Hubert Cornfield (in what would be his last directorial effort in Hollywood) found a way to adapt the novel while also working around the major studios’ uneasiness about kidnappings in a clever way that would also become copied by several filmmakers in the years following this movie. The film does start off leisurely enough, but really kicks into gear when the character flaws of the gang start becoming apparent and begin to interfere with the plan; other than that, there’s really not much to complain about here, except that it ends too soon. With a great cast at work here, The Night of the Following Day manages to overcome the production problems that plagued it during filming to become reappraised as one the better movies during Marlon Brando’s lean years during the 1960’s.
In what is now one of his better roles in the second half of the 1960’s, Marlon Brando is a solid presence as Bud the chauffeur; his legendary mercurial nature during production aside, this film – along with Gillo Pontecorvo’s Burn! (released the same year as this movie) – would start his ascent back into relevance, achieved of course by his iconic performance in The Godfather. Better known today for the gunslinger for hire Paladin in TV’s Have Gun – Will Travel, Richard Boone exudes both charm and menace as the loose cannon Leer; he even finished directing the movie (and was uncredited for it) when Brando and Cornfield’s acrimonious working relationship completely dissolved. Although this was billed as her first adult role, child actress Pamela Franklin has little to do here except act scared as the teenage captive; Rita Moreno – in one of her first roles in film following her Oscar winning performance in West Side Story (1961) – capitalizes on her brief screen time as the drug addicted stewardess. Rounding out the cast here are Jess Hahn as Wally Friendly, the ineffectual mastermind of the kidnapping plot, Gérard Buhr as the local policeman with an affinity for fishing, Jacques Marin as the bartender, Hugues Wanner as the girl’s father and Al Lettieri (who also served as the movie’s associate producer) as a pilot hired by Bud and ends up brutalized by Leer.
3D Rating: NA
The film is presented in its original 1:85:1 aspect ratio for this HD transfer. The film’s opening credits are windowboxed (which isn’t the case on the original DVD release of the movie), but reverts to the original aspect ratio following that. Anyway, film grain is organic with fine details and color palette rendered faithfully; there’s minimal instances of scratches, dirt, tears, or reel change markers present here. Despite the minor issue with the opening credits, this transfer is likely the best the movie will ever look on home video and is an improvement over the previous DVD release.
The film’s original mono soundtrack is presented on a DTS-HD Master Audio track for this release. Dialogue is clear and strong, with sound effects and Stanley Myers’ music score each given a faithful representation as well; there’s minimal to no instances of problems like distortion, crackling or hissing present here. This is definitely the best the movie will ever sound on home video and an improvement over the DVD as well.
Special Features: 3.5/5
Commentary by film historian Tim Lucas – Newly recorded for this release, Lucas talks about the film’s production history, the cast and crew, as well as some of the differences between the film and the Lionel White novel which it was based on.
Commentary by director Hubert Cornfield – Carried over from the 2005 Universal DVD release, the director – speaking from what sounds like a mechanical pharynx, due to the fact that cancer cost him his voice box and part of his jaw – talks about some of the troubles he encountered in making the movie, including the behavior of Brando; he passed away about a year after the original DVD release.
Trailers from Hell with Joe Dante (3:45)
Theatrical Trailer (3:04)
Bonus KLSC Trailers – The Appaloosa, The Nightcomers, The Missouri Breaks
While it didn’t receive much positive attention from either critics or audiences upon first release, The Night of the Following Day has undergone a reappraisal over the years as a very good neo-noir worthy of rediscovery. Kino’s new Blu-ray release should aid in that rediscovery with a solid HD transfer (outside of the windowboxed opening credits) and a very informative new commentary track in addition to the legacy commentary track carried over from previous releases. Highly recommended.
Amazon.com: The Night of the Following Day [Blu-ray]: Marlon Brando, Richard Boone, Rita Moreno, Pamela Franklin, Jess Hahn, Gérard Buhr, Jacques Marin, Hugues Wanner, Al Lettieri, Hubert Cornfield: Movies & TV
Some of our content may contain marketing links, which means we will receive a commission for purchases made via those links. In our editorial content, these affiliate links appear automatically, and our editorial teams are not influenced by our affiliate partnerships. We work with several providers (currently Skimlinks and Amazon) to manage our affiliate relationships. You can find out more about their services by visiting their sites.