Re: Fwd: RARA-AVIS: George's Charles Williams and Lionel White

From: Richard Moore (
Date: 19 Dec 2006

This is reaching back several months to a thread about Lionel White's THE SNATCHERS and the French movie made from it "The Night of the Following Day" (1969). I've now watched the movie and wanted to attach my comments to those below by Ed Gorman because they added to my insight.

The movie is something of a mess, not surprising considering the war that went on behind the scenes between the director Hubert Cornfield and Marlon Brando. From Cornfield's commentary track he says Brando spiked a love scene between his character and the kidnap victim and this changed the whole plot. We also learn that Brando had an alternate ending that he wanted used.

The movie features several excellent acting perfomances that are worth the price of admission. Rita Moreno carries away top honors with several wonderful scenes but all of the cast did well.

The later stages of the film are painfully convoluted and the intended ending was silly then and even more so now after several others have tried the same flip-gimmick. Brando's suggested alternative ending, as explained by the director Cornfield (who hated it), would have been an improvement.

I especially wanted to include Ed's commentary on Cornfield reprinted below because the commentary track has what I think is a real howler. Near the end of the movie, Cornfield says in the commentary that the film was intended to be a tribute to the Belgium artist Maigret. At first I thought I had heard it wrong for the commentary track is so muddy and garbled in tone. But listening a second time, Cornfield does refer to Maigret the artist and apologizes for not mentioning this "homage" earlier. He notes that given the use in the final scenes of the rolled umbrella and bowler hat the homage to the Belgium surrealist could not have been more obvious. Cornfield also says that one reason for opposing Brando's more realistic ending was that it would have destroyed the tribute to the Belgium surrealist.

My head is still spinning from watching the movie for a second time in two days and listening to the commentary track. It is also possible that I am running into a blind spot of my own but here are a couple of things I think are true:

1) I'm no art expert but I know from having resided in Belgium for a time that Belgium artists were among the leaders in surrealism. There was a museum devoted to the subject in Brussels but it never seemed to be open when I passed by. It is likely that I would have heard and remembered a surrealist painter by the name of Maigret, given my familiarity with the detective by that name created by the Belgium writer Georges Simenon.

2) The umbrella is the one thing the detective Maigret is seldom without.

3) The characters and plot complications might remind someone of a Simenon novel.

So rereading Ed's comments on Cornfield's 8th grade education and his sensitivity about it, I wonder if someone commented to Cornfield that his film could be viewed as a homage to the Maigret novels and then years later when recording the commentary track that came out as a claim that the film is a tribute to the Belgium surrealist Maigret.

Anyway, the movie is worth seeing as long as you can tolerate a bit of bumpy logic and silliness at the end.

Richard Moore

--- In, ejgorman99@... wrote:
> In a message dated 9/12/06 1:51:27 PM, juri.nummelin@... writes:
> > he says it's the best film the director - isn't it Hubert
> > Cornfield? - ever made.
> >
> Juri--How about Cornfield's The Night of The Following Day? It's
supposed to
> be Brando's movie but Richard Boone almost takes it from him in
> scene--an astonishingingly creepy thug. Parts of the picture are a
mess because of its
> misguided pretentiousness but it has moments of true suspense and
> power, especially the junkie scenes with Rita Moreno. Cornfield
died recently.
> Somebody who'd worked with him (and tried to like him) said that he
always told
> you what he thought and told you in the most demeaning way
possible, thus
> limiting the number of optons he had in both features and TV. He
had something like
> an eighth grade education and made up for it by smiting people he
saw as his
> superiors, which must have been just about everything. Still and
all he did
> some very interesting and sometimes brave work.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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