Usually, when one sees Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee on the big screen together, it is instant magic. It is immediately known that what follows is going to be good, that no matter the subject, Lee and Cushing are going to entertain for all they are worth. In Nothing but the Night, that does not exactly happen.
The film, to put it bluntly, is a ponderous excuse for a horror movie with little fright or scares within and while the groundwork is laid during the opening act, it fails to exercise it in a manner that will please the audience. All of it deals with children, namely one girl named Mary whom it is all centred around as well as the deaths of some trustees who were looking after her on a remote Scottish island. The two are tied together and Col. Charles Bingham as played by Lee has some idea that they are, to which he tries to get his friend Sir Mark Ashley as portrayed by Cushing to get involved and help him out on the case. Factor in Georgia Brown as a journalist and Diana Dors as the girl’s criminal mother and the cast is a good one but even they cannot save this picture from dragging on for a very long middle act until it finally picks up and concludes nearly ninety minutes later.
If there was one thing this movie lacked more than anything else, it was a focus upon the children who should have been front and centre. ByPeter Sasdy the time it decided to do so, all interest in what was happening was sorely lacking and there was a good mystery to be explored, villains to be revealed and horror to be had. It was touched upon throughout but it was simply surface skimmings, instead there being too much time spent upon the girl’s mother and the reporter. Lee and Cushing would do a fair job of it all but one can almost tell that they thought the material was not up to par from the usual type of quality they were used to and thus even their performances were as good as what people would normally expect from the pair.
The conclusion of the film, once everything had been revealed and Lee is about to lose his life is quite good and slightly disturbing, especially that end scene but it was far too little too late. Trying to make the audience care about your picture in the last few minutes is a fool’s errand as the makers of this movie should have been doing it from the first and such as it is, there are far better Cushing and Lee vehicles to spend one’s time on than this one.
2 out of 5