Some to Misery are Born  

Directed by Sidney Gilliat

Starring Hayley Mills, Hywel Bennett, Britt Ekland

Released October 5th, 1972


Rich girl Ellie (Hayley Mills) is in love with poor boy Michael (Hywel Bennett). The couple is about to start their married life together at Gypsy’s Acre, a nice plot of land in Southwest England recently purchased by Ellie for Michael after it caught his eye. Ellie’s personal assistant Greta (Britt Ekland) tags along as they move in to make sure the couple gets off on the right foot. Soon one of them will be dead. 

When watching a movie at home, there are those actors that impress you so much that you immediately look up their filmography to find more of their work. Hywel Bennett had the opposite effect on me. Bennett makes for an unlikable leading man. I realize that the character he’s playing is rather unlikable, but he still seems wrong for the role. Somewhat surprisingly, Hayley Mills proves herself to be quite the standout among the cast. Her performance is more nuanced than I would have expected. The same can’t be said for Britt Ekland, who was apparently just asked to stand there and look pretty. 

Writer/Director Sidney Gilliat’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s thrilling novel of the same name manages to make the shocking twists of the book land with a dull thud. There are many scenes of exposition that drag on forever. I’m not positive that a shorter length would have saved the movie from being dreadfully boring, but it couldn’t have hurt. This is a film in which “You look especially elfin this morning” is a compliment. This is a film that features an old woman walking her cats on leashes. This is a film that may have benefitted from a few more of those odd touches, but instead falls flat with a lack of imagination.

Gilliat’s decision to shoot the picture in a modern, matter-of-fact fashion betrays the sinister nature of the material. Perhaps had he leaned more into a gothic, atmospheric approach, he would have come away with a more memorable film. As it stands, Endless Night is entirely skippable. You would do well to read Dame Agatha’s book instead. At one point in the film someone mentions Quiche Lorraine, which instantly made me want to turn the film off and put on a record by The B-52’s.  

Kino Lorber’s Blu-ray sports a new 4K master, which is so faithful it even transfers a slight tear in the picture during one scene. In addition to trailers for assorted thrillers, the disc contains an audio commentary from film historians Howard S. Berger and Nathaniel Thompson. In their easygoing commentary, Berger and Thompson declare their admiration for Bernard Hermann’s stirring score and propose a hypotheses for why Endless Night failed at in theaters in the United Kingdom (which led to the film not being released in America).