Based on the best-selling paperback ever written by mystery writer Agatha Christie, Endless Night concerns a chauffeur called Michael Rogers (Hywel Bennett) whose Rolls Royce trips with rich clients around Europe induce a love of beautiful things and the dream of building a fantastic house of his own.
He meets Ellie Thomsen (Hayley Mills), the sixth richest girl in America, and the two fall in love and marry in secret.
With Ellie’s money, they build their dream house – complete with vast picture windows overlooking beautiful Isle of Wight scenery, an indoor waterfall and a living space with a floor which slides away to reveal a swimming pool – though her family disapprove and try to buy Michael off.
Only the family lawyer (George Sanders, who took his own life five months prior to the release of the movie) appears sympathetic.
In the background is Greta (Britt Ekland), Ellie’s beautiful German companion and confidante.
The family hate her and her influence over Ellie, which causes constant friction with Michael.
After the wedding, the inevitable happens. The sixth richest girl in the world becomes very dead, very suddenly.
From that point, it is the old spot-the-villain game. You can take your pick from the nasty aunt, the flashy uncle, the too-smooth lawyer, Greta or Michael. There’s also the obligatory strange, local woman, Miss Townsend (Patience Collier), who is spiritually inclined, walks her cats on leads, and is mad as a box of frogs.
Hayley Mills struggles with an American accent, and halfway through the film, rightly decides it’s not working and gives up. The rest of the cast struggle with Sidney Gilliat’s script (he also directed the film) and find that isn’t working either, but don’t give up.
There’s a slap and tickle scene with a partially nude Michael and Greta, which you can be certain Agatha Christie did not write.
Mischa De La Motte