Eyes in the Night (October 16, 1942)
Released October 16, 1942: (running time 1 hour and 20 minutes) Edward Arnold plays Mac Maclain, a blind detective who investigates a murder and discovers espionage against the WWII war effort.
Directed by Fred Zinnemann
Written by Guy Trosper and Howard Emmett Rogers from a novel by Baynard Kendrick.
The Actors: Edward Arnold (Duncan 'Mac' Maclain), Ann Harding (Norma Lawry), Donna Reed (Barbara Lawry), Stephen McNally (Gabriel Hoffman), Katherine Emery (Cheli Scott), Allen Jenkins (Marty), Stanley Ridges (Hansen), Reginald Denny (Stephen Lawry), John Emery (Paul Gerente), Rosemary DeCamp (Vera Hoffman), Erik Rolf (Boyd), Barry Nelson (Mr. Busch), Reginald Sheffield (Victor), Steven Geray (Mr. Anderson), Mantan Moreland (Alistair), John Butler (taxi driver), Edward Kilroy (pilot), Ivan Miller (detectife Herman), Thomas Murray (man), G. Raymond Nye (Hugo), Milburn Stone (detective Pete), Franklin M. Thomas (Police Lieutenant), Marie Windsor (actress at rehearsal).
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I always enjoy a good murder mystery, especially if the plot is convoluted but logical. We see the bad guys early on, and discover what their goal is before the good guys do, and we sit in suspense while the good guys stumble around, not knowing what terrible danger they are in. Throw in a very believable family conflict, and we have one jim-dandy mystery to enjoy. Pop your corn, drizzle on plenty of melted butter . . . real butter now, nothing else tastes the same . . . and settle down for an enjoyable hour and twenty minutes!
As our thriller opens, retired actress Norma Lawry is visiting her uncle, a noted blind detective, Mac, played by the lovable character actor Edward Arnold. As background, we soon learn that she has married a scientist with a teenage daughter, played by the young Donna Reed. Norma talks to uncle Mac about step-daughter Barbara, who is dating a much older man, a man that mother Norma dated also. Step-daughter Barbara despises her step-mother Norma, and sticks it in her eye about dating an older man that once dated step-mother Norma. Uncle Mac advises Norma to confront the man dating step-daughter Barbara and try to get him to leave Barbara alone. Here is where it gets very interesting.
The next day, Dad will be flying to some unknown destination with a secret weapon for the war effort. Daughter Barbara is off on a date with her older man, and Norma is supposed to go on the trip with her husband to places unknown. Barbara and Norma have a discussion, and Barbara threatens step-mother Norma, saying that if Norma tells dad that she is dating an older man, Barbara will tell dad about Norma's past relationship with the older man. Barbara is off to have dinner with the guy, and Norma decides not to go on the trip with her husband, but to stay home and try to get the older guy to stop seeing Barbara. When Barbara gets to the older guy's apartment for dinner with him, she discovers the guy dead on the floor in front of the fireplace, and oops . . . step-mother Norma is coming out of the bedroom. Barbara at once thinks that step-mother Norma killed the guy to keep him away from her, but Norma says he was already dead when she got there. Devious step-daughter Barbara tells Norma that if she leaves immediately and never returns, she won't tell the cops that Norma killed the guy. So Norma agrees, but goes straight back to uncle Mac's house to ask for help.
So blind uncle Mac tells her to go home and let him investigate. When Mac goes to the apartment to investigate, along with his seeing-eye dog Friday and his companion/side-kick, they discover that the body is gone. The side-kick leaves the apartment for a minute, and while Mac and the dog are waiting in the bedroom, a fellow comes in and places a bear skin rug on the floor in front of the fireplace, and then goes to the bedroom and calls Norma's home, talking to someone named 'Vera'. Uncle Mac and the dog Friday subdue the guy and the side-kick returns and takes him to uncle Mac's house for safe keeping. Uncle Mac goes to Norma's home, knowing that a 'Vera' inside the home is involved in the murder, but not much else. He enters the home, and while he is inside, all hell breaks loose, in a slow-motion, nail-biting way. It is blind uncle Mac and Norma, against a house full of servants and maids that are in conspiracy to steal dad's secret formula for the war effort from the safe in the den, and there are no holds barred.