John Triton (Edward G. Robinson) is a phony psychic. Included in his act are his friend Whitney Courtland (Jerome Cowan) and his fiancé Jenny (Virginia Bruce). One night John has an actual vision. He tells a woman that her son is in danger and she needs to rush home. Later he finds out that the child had set his bed on fire playing with matches.
Soon there are more visions. Whitney begins to ask John to predict horse races and investment options. Whitney is making money but John is not happy with this new found gift. It seems that the things he predicts come true no matter what he does. Things that are bad like accidents can’t be changed whether he warns people about them or not. He cannot prevent what he sees.
One vision tells him that his fiancé Jenny will die in childbirth. To try to prevent this from happening John leaves. He believes that if he is not in her life the vision can change. He goes out into a desert town and lives by himself for years. One of the visions John had before he left was about an investment in land that had oil. Investing in the project made Whitney rich. Whitney marries Jenny. She dies in childbirth.
John’s visions begin again. He sees Whitney die in a plane crash. He tries to contact Whitney to warn him but he is in New York. He is planning a plane trip across country. He is trying to break a distance record. John talks to Jean Cortland (Gail Russell), Whitney and Jenny’s daughter. He convinces her to try to contact her father but it is too late. Later they learn that the plane crashed and Whitney died.
Now John is having visions about Jean Courtland, Whitney and Jenny’s daughter. His vision tells him that she will die.
“Night has a Thousand Eyes” was released in 1948 and was directed by John Farrow. It is based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich. It is a thriller and a film noir. This one is a little different from most noir films. There is a supernatural aspect to it.
It’s one of those movies where you have to watch it to the end just to find out what happens. To find out what is real and what isn’t. It’s basically an edge of your seat film. All through the film there are John’s visions of things and his narration of them. Then there is a perfect explanation for all his visions that the police shrinks and others interpret to discredit him. They are presented on both sides matter of factly. It’s not until the end where you find out if what is happening is real or not. Still there is a point where the police are trying to stop a murder that they don’t even think is going to happen.
The acting, for the most part, is on point. Robinson is especially good as a tortured man who has a gift he really considers a curse. Some may think he’s a little over the top but I look at him as intense. I found him to be good at being preoccupied with his unfortunate lot in life. He can’t get rid of his ability so he hides himself away so that it won’t haunt him. That only works for so long. His connection to Whitney, Jenny and now their daughter forces him out into the world hoping that this once he can change the future. What good is knowing what will happen if you can’t use it to help someone?
For the most part it’s a sad film. But it’s done well and is actually riveting. The gloom of it is part of the appeal to the movie. Unfortunately it’s a little known treasure of the noir style and sometimes difficult to find.