Endless Night (1972 film)

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Endless Night
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Sidney Gilliat
Produced by Leslie Gilliat
Screenplay by Sidney Gilliat
Based on Endless Night
by Agatha Christie
Starring Hayley Mills
Hywel Bennett
Britt Ekland
Per Oscarsson
George Sanders
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography Harry Waxman
Edited by Thelma Connell
Distributed by United Artists
Release date
  • 5 October 1972 (1972-10-05) (UK)
Running time
95 min.
Country United Kingdom
Language English

Endless Night is a 1972 British horror and crime film directed by Sidney Gilliat and starring Hayley Mills, Britt Ekland, Per Oscarsson, Hywel Bennett and George Sanders.[1] Based on the novel Endless Night by Agatha Christie, the plot follows a newlywed couple who feel threatened after building their dream home on cursed land.


Michael Rogers (Bennett), a young drifter currently employed as a chauffeur, has a chance meeting with the lovely Ellie Thomsen (Mills). He dreams of building a magnificent house on a particular spot of land along the Devon coast. Unknown to him, she is actually a wealthy heiress and can make his dream come true. With the help of her efficient German companion, Greta (Ekland), they marry and build a memorable home designed by noted architect Santonix (Oscarsson), much to the disapproval of Ellie's family, who try to buy off Michael.

However, the land the couple purchased is known as "Gypsy's Acre" and is said to carry a curse. Mysterious accidents pile up, a self-proclaimed gypsy haunts the grounds, and after a midnight accident, Greta moves in with the couple to nurse Ellie back to health, to the resentment of Michael.

A further equestrian accident results in the death of Ellie, and Michael is shattered. With the aid of her lawyer "Uncle" Andrew (Sanders) and Greta, Michael pulls together. But he remains haunted by ghostly images of Ellie, and a devious murder plot—and another death—are revealed in the finale.[2]



The novel was published in 1967. Christie later said she normally wrote her books in three to four months but Endless Night was done in six weeks.[3]

Launder and Gilliat had spent two years working on a comedy about British divorce, Sex and the British. However they had to shelve it when a change in British law meant the plot became obsolete. Instead they decided to adapt the Agatha Christie novel, with Gilliat to direct and Launder to produce. Their aim was to write a cinematic script with a minimum of dialogue and a deliberate ambiguity of style "in the sense you're never really sure what is being said is what is really meant or really being said."[4]

The film was partly financed from money by the NFFC.[5]

Filming took place in June 1971.[6]

Shooting locations included Christie's Auction House, Hertfordshire, as well as the West Country and Albergo San Pietro, Positano, Italy. The Philpotts' estate (Mike and Ellie's neighbors) was filmed at Grim's Dyke.

The score was by Bernard Herrmann. Ellie's singing in the film was dubbed by Shirley Jones.


The film received mixed reviews. Although reasonably faithful to the novel, it is "An example of the sort of thing Christie was writing in her later years: moody psychological studies very different from, and not so much fun as, her early thrillers."[7] Contemporary critics have noted "Nice performances all around, with special admiration for Oscarsson's role as the dying architect."[8]

Christie herself was displeased by the "lacklustre" adaptation of one of her favorite novels, although she had been initially pleased by the choice of director-writer and cast. Furthermore, she disliked the (admittedly brief) erotic nudity by Ekland in the film's final sequences.[9]

"I was very disappointed when I saw it as a film," said Christie. "It got flatter and less interesting every minute."[10]

After an unsuccessful run in Britain, UA did not release the film in the United States,[11] although there were runs in Denmark and Finland in 1973.

See also


  1. ^ halfcolombian (5 October 1972). "Endless Night (1972)". IMDb.
  2. ^ "Endless Night (1972)". BFI.
  3. ^ Crime Story Queen By Muriel Bowen. The Washington Post, Times Herald 15 Sep 1970: B4.
  4. ^ British Lion keepers Richmond, Theo; GILLIAT, SYDNEY; Launder, Frank. The Guardian 28 Sep 1970: 8.
  5. ^ In the Picture Sight and Sound; London Vol. 40, Iss. 4, (Fall 1971): 187.
  6. ^ Belt It Out, Bobby!: Bobby Burns Will Belt It Out By A. H. WEILER. New York Times 13 June 1971: D15.
  7. ^ "Endless Night". Time Out London. Archived from the original on 7 June 2011.
  8. ^ halfcolombian (5 October 1972). "Endless Night (1972)". IMDb.
  9. ^ Haining, Peter, Agatha Christie: Murder in Four Acts. Virgin Books, London, 1990. p 50. ISBN 1-85227-273-2
  10. ^ Dame Agatha Tells Whodunit--She Did: Grande Dame of Whodunit Los Angeles Times 15 Dec 1974: l1.
  11. ^ Haining

External links

  • Endless Night at BFI
  • Endless Night on IMDb
  • Endless Night at AllMovie
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