For Brando And Moreno Fans: ‘The Night Of The Following Day’ Reviewed

by Rachel Bellwoar

We might not know who actress, Pamela Franklin, is playing or why she’s being kidnapped, but there’s no mistaking that’s what’s going on when Hubert Cornfield’s The Night of the Following Day begins. Our knowledge of Franklin’s character doesn’t expand much, either, as the film goes on. Her father has money. That’s who the kidnappers contact with their demands, but she remains nameless.

The film starts with Franklin on a plane, where a stewardess played by Rita Moreno asks her to buckle-up Then, after disembarking, Franklin meets a chauffeur played by Marlon Brando. It turns out Brando’s Bud and Moreno’s Vi share more than the same hair color (Moreno’s hair is dyed and Brando’s wearing a wig). They’re also in cahoots with Richard Boone’s Leer and Jess Hahn’s Wally to hold Franklin for ransom. Unlike with Franklin’s character, as the film goes on, we do learn more about the kidnappers and how they wound up working together. This is actually the most engaging part of the movie because, as film historian, Tim Lucas, notes in his commentary, Cornfield regularly challenges assumptions.

You’d expect, for example, Brando, to be the hothead of the group who’s not as experienced as the others. In reality, all of the actors playing the kidnappers were around the same age. Brando was 44 at the time of filming but between the wig and a health kick he was on (according to Lucas), he was in amazing physical shape.

Meanwhile, Boone (who was supposed to be the star of the movie before Brando got cast) seems like the kidnapper who’s the most together. At least that’s the impression he gives while talking to Franklin, like kidnapping is the most reasonable crime in the world, but it doesn’t last.

Fans of Moreno should know she gets a fairly meaty role in this movie. Night of the Following Day wouldn’t pass the Bechdel test (and in his commentary Lucas laments the fact that Franklin wasn’t given more to do or scenes to work with Moreno). Still, it’s not one of those parts where she’s just the girlfriend or a token female. In his commentary, Lucas also discusses the movie in the context of Moreno’s career, which was outrageously doing poorly since her Oscar win for West Side Story. What parts she was offered were usually lousy and it was Brando who suggested her for The Night of the Following Day (they’d been romantically involved in the 50’s).

Lucas doesn’t leave any stone unturned. From Brando’s deteriorating relationship with Cornfield to Cornfield taking inspiration from the Belgian artist, René Magritte, Lucas also spends some time discussing the source material (Lionel White’s novel, The Snatchers).

Kino Lorber’s Blu-Ray also comes with a second commentary by Cornfield that’s apparently a carryover from an earlier release of the film. Since Lucas refers to Cornfield’s commentary in his, it’s mostly useful for getting to hear from the director himself, but with a lot of dead air space in-between.

The Night of the Following Day is available on Blu-Ray starting May 25th from Kino Lorber.

%d bloggers like this: