On the Night of the Fire Film Details
Overview: A barber commits a petty theft, which leads to his becoming involved in blackmail and murder.
Review: A major discovery of national television’s Rank library retrospective, On the Night of the Fire seems to have been pushed into the critics’ background by the huge artistic and commercial success of the author’s later Odd Man Out. While there are an unusually large number of parallels between both films (and presumably the Green novels on which they’re based), there are just as many divergences to make both equally fascinating. Both novels are set in a particular city Belfast in Odd Man Out, Newcastle in On the Night of the Fire where such an extraordinarily large use is made in both movies of their actual streets and locations, that the cities themselves, as Green certainly intended, become protagonists in their rather grim stories. Both novels (and their movie counterparts) have as their central character an odd man out, a loner, someone who is initially well-liked but doesn’t fit into his surroundings because he seems to be above the good citizens who hem him in on every side. It’s a difficult relationship to keep up, and in both films it breaks down when the people (or most of them) reject him. In both movies, this central character resolves his dilemma in exactly the same way. In other words (not to give too much of the plot away), the police play exactly the same role of hunters, persecutors and eventually just so slightly unwilling executioners. In both pictures, the plot is set in motion by a crime a simple crime of robbery which goes horribly wrong. At this point occur the first major divergences. In Odd Man Out, the robbery is deliberately planned. In On the Night of the Fire, it occurs casually, on the spur of the moment, as a split-second opportunity suddenly and unexpectedly seized. In Odd Man Out, the results are immediate. In Fire, the catastrophe is a long time building up. In Odd Man, the robbery is a joint endeavor. In Fire, it’s just one man against the system. Sir Ralph Richardson would seem at first sight an unlikely choice for the role of a humble barber. But actually his somewhat mannered performance and his posh accent are perfect for the role of society’s victim. Likewise Diana Wynyard as the wife who also dreams of something better. Henry Oscar plays the slimy blackmailer. His is a truly frightening creation, whilst Mary Clare’s appropriately unnerving Crazy Lizzy is also an inspired piece of casting. As a traitor with a conscience, Romney Brent has a difficult role, but he manages to achieve complete conviction. Sara Allgood contributes her usual effective study of a malicious gossip. A young Glynis Johns can merely be glimpsed briefly as a rather suitably drab servant-girl, yet Guy Middleton in a larger part as the van driver at the hospital is not credited at all (he uses his real voice too, not the fruity accent he was later to adopt). Brian Desmond Hurst’s direction has surprising impact, although a lot of the film’s stunning power and effects are derived from Gunther Krampf’s atmospheric lighting, John Bryan’s cramped yet extensive sets, and especially Miklos Rozsa’s typical, melodically percussive score.
Country: United Kingdom
Duration: 76 min
Genre: Drama, Thriller
Also known as: Asesino,Natten när det brann,Mord in der Capnor-Straße,O Criminoso,The Fugitive,Verstrickung,La notte dell’incendio,Na Noite do Incêndio,On the Night of the Fire,Mientras arde el fuego