NIGHT MUST FALL is not so much a whodunnit as a why he did it. Based on a play by Emlyn Williams, it had a stellar cast including Robert Montgomery, Rosalind Russel, and Dame May Whitty(who reprised the role she played on the London stage.
Robert Montgomery is Danny, the charming, and quite mad, killer. He disarms everyone he meets with his good cheer and manners. Dame May Whitty plays Mrs. Bramson, a rich crabby old woman who is quite abrasive with everyone, but meddles in everyone’s business. Rosalind Russell is Olivia, the old lady’s niece and assistant, caring for the wheelchair bound Bramson(we do see late in the film, though, that she’s quite capable of getting up and walking very easily when no one is around. She keeps a lot of cash at her home, distrustful of banks. Justin Laurie(Alan Marshal) is Bramson’s lawyer and Olivia’s hopeful lover. She’s fond of him, but doesn’t love him.
Danny comes to the household when he visits his fiancee, Dora(Merle Tottenham), who’s about to be fired for breaking a piece of china dinner ware. Danny works his charms on the old lady and is soon offered a job(he needs more money before he can marry Dora you see).
Olivia is the only one immune to Danny’s charm. Instinctively she senses something wrong about him. To that end, when Danny is taking Mrs. Bramson for a push in the garden, she convinces Dora and the cook, Emily Terence(Kathleen Harrison), to search his room. He’s been there a week and has failed to unpack his two suitcases. and then there’s the hatbox, locked and heavy, that they fail to open whe he catches them in his room.
The final sequence, late at night, with the phone wire cut and Olivia alone with Danny, we see just how mad the man really is as Montgomery does an excellent job portraying a disintegrating mind.