Movie Critique - Night Editor

Stars: 5 / 5

Recommendation: A well made film noir with all the necessary elements, with a surprising ending, although leaves you chilled to bone at the callous nature of human mind.

Night Editor is the 1946 B-film film noir based on the radio show of the same name, in particular to the episode titled "Inside Job". Directed by Henry Levin, the film has William Gargan, Janis Carter and Jean Marie "Jeff" Donnell in the lead cast. Screenplay provided by Hal Smith and Scott Littleton; and produced by Ted Richmond. The plot is told in flashback mode.

At a poker game, editor of New Yok Star, Crane Stewart (portrayed by Charles D. Brown), reminisces about an investigation done by police lieutenant Tony Cochrane (portrayed by William Gargan). Tony and his girlfriend, Jill Merrill (portrayed by Janis Carter) witness a murder one night, but cannot report since they are in an illicit affair. What goes on in the rest of the film is the dilemma they face, the consequences as a result of that and the investigatory procedure Tony follows.

The radio show primarily concentrated on reporters working on the graveyard shift and sharing stories they have covered in the past. Practically every episode was told in a flashback mode. Originally planned to be a series of films based on the show, only one film was made instead.

With no big named stars, and 67-minute plot, certainly entertains the viewers, even the originality is less and less as the movie progresses. Characters at their worst at every turn of the scene making it a true noir film. 

The flashback mode also helped low-budget film-makers to use the poker scene for several scenes which would be explained as a conversation between the players instead of acting them out; thus saving the budget. 

William Gargan as Lieutenant Tony Cochrane doesn’t show appreciation to what he has in his life; has greed for the forbidden fruit; and only realizes the truth when all starts to go to hell. He has innate meanness in him that only Jill can see and continuously exploits him. He fits well as a detective despite the flaws.

Jeff Donnell's Martha Cochrane plays a perfect housewife who is sad and disappointed in her marriage due to her husband Tony's waywardness. She doesn’t argue or fight, just takes it all in and tries to make a better life for her son, Doc Cochrane, and for herself; hoping one day Tony will be back.

The cake is taken by Janis Carter as the femme fatale Jill Merrill, a married socialite, with her voluptuous and viperous role. She not only has her fangs deep inside Tony's skin, she also wraps around him like an anaconda; with her poisonous words, always hurting anyone who comes in her path. It gives you chill in your bones at her enthusiasm to see dead body immediately after being killed.

A well made film noir with all the necessary elements, with a surprising ending, although leaves you chilled to bone at the callous nature of human mind. Shades of grittiness and equally shades of softness around the edges seen that cannot be missed. Watch out for the fangs while enjoying the bites.

Spoiler Alerts:

1) Movie Trivia:

a. Night Editor radio program ran from 1934 thru 1948 sponsored by Edwards Coffee. Hal Budrick was the "night editor" in the episodes and played all characters of the program while sharing the stories to the listeners.

b. A short-lived TV series also was produced in 1954.


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