The film begins with vignettes of violent deaths, culminating in the crash of a tour bus carrying dozens of orphans. One of the survivors is young Mary Valley (Gwyneth Strong), a ward of a charitable trust that runs the Inver House orphanage on the remote Scottish island of Bala.
Following the crash, Mary ends up in a hospital under the care of physicians including shrewd pathologist Sir Mark Ashley (Peter Cushing), who, at the urging of a colleague, investigates Mary’s background.
Concurrently, Colonel Charles Bingham (Christopher Lee) examines whether the earlier deaths are connected to the crash and believes Mary might be capable of providing key information.
Making the already-murky story unnecessarily convoluted is the presence of Mary’s biological mother, a deranged ex-prostitute and convicted triple murderess named Anna Harb (Diana Dors) who has been released by the Home Secretary after serving a 10-year sentence.
After being contacted by a representative from the hospital, Anna becomes obsessed with seeing Mary, who was taken away from her by authorities three years ago.
Observing a fraught mother/daughter encounter causes Sir Mark to embrace the odd notion that Anna and Mary share some sort of psychic link which relates to the mysterious deaths.
Nothing But The Night slowly spirals from an intricate conspiracy story to a trite race-against-time melodrama, but the film has strong production values (it was produced by Christopher Lee’s company, Charlemagne), occasional thrills, and lively acting.
Cushing is terrific and Dors is a holy terror as Anna, all mile-high hair and whorish makeup. Lee is less impressive, his character’s inner machinations hidden too deeply behind a stiff-upper-lip façade, and costar Georgia Brown, who plays a pushy tabloid reporter, is merely adequate. Keith Barron appears as the determined Dr Haynes and Michael Gambon as the no-nonsense Inspector Grant.
The violent ending – which vaguely resembles the climax of The Wicker Man – is something of a cheat.
Colonel Charles Bingham
Sir Mark Ashley
Helen Van Traylen