Monday, May 2, 2016

A Grittier Side to Marlon Brando - The Night of the Following Day (1968)

The Night of the Following Day
R, 1968

An attractive teenage girl (Pamela Franklin) of a wealthy father (Hugues Wanner) is kidnapped on her way out of the airport by a man pretending to be a chauffeur, Bud, (Marlon Brando) and a guy who jumps into the car credited as Leer (Richard Boone). It turns out the blonde stewardess Vi (Rita Moreno) from the flight the girl was on is in on the job, as well as her brother, Wally (Jess Hahn).

A simple kidnapping for ransom rapidly escalates when Bud the chauffeur realizes that Leer is a sick, twisted S.O.B. with a taste for teenage girls. The stewardess, Vi, also Bud's girlfriend and Wally's sister, has a serious drug problem on top of Leer's fetish, and Bud wants out, and not just out, but to stop the whole thing and give the girl back. But this isn't the kind of story where everything goes the way you want it. At all.

In the year 1968, the Motion Picture Production Code officially ended and the rating system we know today as the MPAA Film Rating System began. While they say that the MPPC was only minimally enforced in the late 1960s, it is blatantly obvious when the MPPC (really the morality code of Hollywood) went out the window. 1968 was the beginning of a new era in motion picture history, a switch from the Golden Age of Classic Hollywood to something much grittier.

Rita Moreno awakens our poor, innocent victim from her nap on the airplane.

Our first glimpse of the innocent victim.

She turns around when someone calls her name, meeting the chauffeur.

Sure, there's a face you can trust.

The car pulls to a stop and the door opens giving the girl her first glimpse . . . 

of the majorly creepy Richard Boone who deserved everything Brando dished out to him.

The shocking moment when the girl realizes . . . 

the stewardess is involved in her kidnapping. 

*insert several minutes of general plotting and planning and scheming here*

Brando expected to be picked up at the airport by his girlfriend only to end up ditched and had to hitch a ride to the safe house with a cop instead.

Where was she? Well here she's trying to convince him she's not high because there's no needle marks.

Except that you can so totally get high by snorting, and he's no fool.

Hmm, maybe it's time to rethink my life.

In the wee hours, the girl decides it's time for an escape attempt.

Look who's awake pondering the meaning of his life. The girl will be grateful in a minute.

Oh no.

Look who was sleeping on the stairs.

Is that the sound of a struggle?

Brando peers around the corner just in time . . . 

To see that Boone has forced the girl to fall down the stairs.

A confrontation is about to happen.

 Because Brando takes serious offense at Boone looking up her skirt like he did.

And I'm not sure Boone should challenge such a muscle-bound Brando.

Boone must agree because he gives up the girl to Brando.

Who then carefully deposits her in her room in a shot that makes sure we see his fly is open and belt undone.

Rita Moreno starts waking up from her drugged stupor.

Concern as the girl sobs on the bed.

More concern and then out the bedroom door.

Just as Rita peeks out her door.

To find Brando buttoning the fly he suddenly realizes is still open from last night.

 A shame she was so toasted she didn't remember intimacy with him because now she's sure he's done the unthinkable with a teenage girl. All hell does break loose when she thinks she's been betrayed.

Brando goes to find Wally, Rita's brother, because he's pissed about Boone and wants out.

I literally could go on forever, but I only wanted to share so much of the film in screen caps, something I've never really done before. I figured it was worth a shot mainly because a synopsis doesn't do this movie full justice and I wanted to capture the feeling of it in this review.

The Night of the Following Day is an obvious B grade kidnapping flick, but it also happens to be a solid example of Marlon Brando's acting chops.The scene with Wally (above) is one of the finest acting moments I've witnessed from him, like his taxi ride with Steiger in On the Waterfront and his major confrontation with Vivien Leigh in Streetcar.

Considering Brando was drunk through most of the filming of this movie, that's saying something. Although this could just be conjecture on the part of fans and slander on the part of the director. What is obvious is that Brando was at his finest physical shape for The Night of the Following Day, an incredible specimen of masculinity that only comes with maturity. So I'm not sure how you can be a drunk and still in tip-top condition.

As for Rita Moreno, most fans recognize her as Anita from West Side Story. I loved her in that and really liked her in The Night of the Following Day. It's challenging to play someone who's so strung out she's not sure which side is up while at the same time being an empathetic character because she's so addicted to drugs she can't do anything else. I felt sorry for her character and wish she could have had a different end.

Then you have Richard Boone. Only now do I realize why I could never stomach Have Gun, Will Travel. I watched this movie first and hadn't connected the dots until now. He's a disgusting, degrading reprobate and I felt not a twinge of remorse at his final demise. A lot of folks end up dead in The Night of the Following Day although not Brando, surprisingly. I was most coldly appreciative of Boone's death because I have no love for predators and pedophiles.

The Night of the Following Day is rated R for a reason. It has female upper nudity and an almost sex scene between Brando and Moreno. They were still careful with it, though, careful enough to be almost tame by today's standards. The girl is abused by the end of the film (although you don't see it happening) and so the upper female nudity is hers and she's also a little bit bloodied. A man is shot and then left to drown in the rising tide of the ocean. There's plenty of language but no F bomb so that's a minor plus.

The quality of the story itself is somewhat lacking, I admit. The kidnapping and the attempt to get the money was way too contrived and complex, hence my B grade rating. But for Brando's sake as his character attempts to play the hero, and the shocking brilliance of Rita Moreno, it's worth a viewing if you have a strong stomach. Pamela Franklin, despite her altogether too few lines, was also brilliant, although I am shocked at her upper nudity since I believe she was only 17 when it was filmed.
This begs the question, then. Did I enjoy The Night of the Following Day? That's the wrong phrase. Do I find it intriguing? Yes, yes I do. Despite it's being one of the trippiest movies from the 1960s that I've ever watched, and definitely one of the most content-heavy. But mostly I appreciate the negative light that is thrown on BDSM. With films like 50 Shades of Grey women are starting to think bondage is romantic. It's not. It's ugly and terrifying and nasty, just like Richard Boone's character, and The Night of the Following Day paints it in no other light.

I love movies made within the era of the Motion Picture Production Code simply because some things were not done. But The Night of the Following Day is intriguing because it is the start of a new era. Brutal honesty was suddenly the name of the game and there wasn't always a happy ending.

If you're a courageous Brando or Rita Moreno fan, you might give The Night of the Following Day a try. If you're a Richard Boone fan, you'll never be able to look at him the same way again. I know I won't.


  1. I've seen this one! I watched it a few years back when I was watching all of Richard Boone's movies. (Fortunately, I'd seen him in plenty of other stuff first and so he's still one of my favorite actors!) But wow, this was the most sinister and frightening character I've ever seen him play. I, too, was quite happy when he got his. This was an odd, creepy, brutal little film. I didn't know anybody but me had ever seen it. LOL!

    I'm not a Marlon Brando fan, though I can appreciate what he does. I think the only thing of his I've seen that I genuinely liked him in was Sayonara, and I haven't seen that in 20 years now, so I'd really like to revisit.

    I'd like to say I'd forgotten about this movie until your review reminded me of it, but one doesn't forget a movie like this. Great screencaps too!

    1. Yay, someone else who knows what I'm talking about!

      Yes, Richard Boone is utterly creepy. It's probably really bad that this is the first time I ever saw Richard Boone in a movie. I'm a little scarred now.

      Ahhh, Brando. I suspect I'm one of a dying breed of fan for him. I don't meet many folks that actually like him anymore. But I hadn't expected anyone to know about this movie, so that thrills me.

      Brutal film. That's a great description. I love the ambiguous ending. Was she dreaming? Did it really happen? Etc. So creepy.

    2. I don't know if you're a dying breed. Marlon Brando is the favorite actor of two of my friends. One named his cat after him!

      Yeah, the ending was quite cool. It's an effective movie, because 90% of it has stayed with me after only one viewing. That doesn't always happen.

  2. I'm not enough of a Brando fan to want to see it, and don't need any help distrusting Boone because I've never liked him since Big Jake. But I get what you mean about not enjoying a movie, but still finding it intriguing or fascinating or worth studying. I've got a few like that, like The Ninth Configuration and Pressure Point.

    1. I watched it for the first time about 8 years ago or so and it really shocked me. Sadly, I've seen a lot since that time so I wasn't surprised this time around and actually found it completely intriguing with its ambiguous ending and the character motivations.

      Plus, I love knowing that it's the start of a new era and that it's such a solid different of the after of Classic Hollywood. There's nothing nice or fluffy here and the part of me that likes to analyze loves that contrast with Classic Hollywood.


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