Cast & Crew
Exhausted after twenty-one years of touring, concert pianist Eric Phillips learns that his financial advisor, Peter Danilo, has purchased an apartment building from its former owner, a taxidermist, when he is served with a warrant ordering him to visit the building and perform the necessary repairs. Among the tenants is Polly Haines, a photographer's model. Eric is quite taken with her and while they are talking, insurance salesman Bruce Arnold arrives. When Polly learns that Eric is afraid of damaging his hands, she suggests that Bruce insure them, and Bruce enthusiastically agrees, saying that he and Polly could then marry with the money from the commission. The following day the tenants all gather on the roof to welcome Eric. They announce their intention to fix up the building together, with plans for a day care center and roof garden. At the suggestion of the manager, Horace Willoughby, Polly takes Eric on a hike with some of the boys from the building. On their return to the apartment, Eric is met by a building inspector who announces that the building repairs are not up to code, and Eric then fires Willoughby. Polly reproachfully informs him that Willoughby was forced to sell the building after he went broke from helping others and accuses Eric of being spoiled. Eric then rehires Willoughby and gives him a free hand with the building repairs. Soon, Polly and Eric have fallen in love, and, on the advice of Eric's friend, Madame Karina, an elderly musician, Polly tries to introduce Eric to more relaxing pursuits. Overcome by jealousy, Bruce picks a fight with Eric, and convinces him that Polly was only being nice to him in order to sell him the insurance. Eric then prepares to go away on tour again, but when he returns to the apartment for some sheet music he accidentally left behind, Willoughby loosens the door handle, thereby locking him in with Polly. Forced to talk to each other, Polly learns what Bruce told Eric and Eric learns that Danilo was trying to separate him from Polly. Eric takes his revenge on both Bruce and Danilo when he and Polly leave for his tour, which will serve as their honeymoon.
A Kiss in the Dark
Academy Award recognition was further afield for Niven: after his breakthrough with the enormously popular Thank You, Jeeves! and the epic The Charge of the Light Brigade (both 1936), and the cementing of his star quality with Raffles (1940), Oscar® recognition would continue to elude the actor until Separate Tables (1958). In the interim, Niven was cast in flop after flop under his suffocating film contract: A Kiss in the Dark would not be able to break the curse. The review of the film by News of the World lamented, "With each of David Niven's current Hollywood pictures the same question occurs: 'What's going on? What on earth are they doing with that fellow's career?'"
Thankfully, production during the film was pleasant - one might even say intoxicating--by comparison; in one of Niven's memoirs, Bring on the Empty Horses, the actor recalls, "Afternoon tea became a popular feature while I was making a picture there with Jane Wyman. Towards the end of the day we made it a point to invite friends from nearby sound stages to drop over and join us at the charming ritual, I handed round little cakes while Jane from a large Rockingham teapot dispensed lethal dry martinis, and our Warner-contracted guests obtained an extra 'charge' from these clandestine sips, from the knowledge that they were enjoyed on Jack Warner's time."
Years later, the Niven biography The Other Side of the Moon by Sheridan Morley declared, "Mercifully, all he could later recall about the film was having to play a concert pianist with a real musician's hands stuck through the sleeves of his tail coat." Wyman would soon have reason to want to forget about the film, too: one harsh critic cruelly remarked of her performance in Kiss, "She should turn the face of her Oscar® to the wall." Coupled with her recent divorce from Ronald Reagan the summer before, Wyman responded to her troubled times with admirable stoicism, "I've made many friends who've respected my wishes in refusing to discuss my problems." Ever the trooper, she would go on to earn two more Academy Award nominations, including a Best Actress nod for Magnificent Obsession (1954). In the eighties, a whole new generation of viewers would get to know Wyman as Angela Gioberti Channing Erikson Stavros Agretti, the regal matriarch of the long-running melodrama Falcon Crest (1981-90).
The supporting cast of A Kiss in the Dark included Wayne Morris and Broderick Crawford. Morris, known mostly for Westerns and crime dramas, had his greatest triumph with Kid Galahad (1937), in which he played the bellhop-turned-prizefighter. Crawford won an Oscar® for his work in a film released the same year as Kiss, All the King's Men. He would have another critical success the next year, with Born Yesterday (1950). A couple of uncredited parts were played by actors with notable television credits: Phyllis Coates pioneered the role of Lois Lane on Adventures of Superman (1952), starring George Reeves, and Jimmie Dodd would be best known as the composer of The Mickey Mouse Club March, as well as all the songs associated with the popular show (1955).
Producer: Harry Kurnitz
Director: Delmer Daves
Screenplay: Devery Freeman (story), Everett Freeman (story), Harry Kurnitz
Cinematography: Robert Burks
Film Editing: David Weisbart
Art Direction: Stanley Fleischer
Music: Max Steiner
Cast: David Niven (Eric Phillips), Jane Wyman (Polly Haines), Victor Moore (Horace Willoughby), Wayne Morris (Bruce Arnold), Broderick Crawford (Mr. Botts), Joseph Buloff (Peter Danilo).
BW-88m. Closed captioning.
by Eleanor Quin
A Kiss in the Dark
The film's working title was The Cleopatra Arms. According to a news item in October 22, 1947 Los Angeles Examiner, Lauren Bacall was to co-star in the film with Dennis Morgan. A March 1, 1948 Variety news item reports that Joan Crawford was to star in the film, but on March 4, 1948, Hollywood Reporter noted that Jane Wyman replaced Crawford. A contemporary news item indicates that Ray Turner recorded the piano solos and coached David Niven on piano playing technique. At one time, Warner Bros. was planning to make a film based on the Victor Herbert operetta, A Kiss in the Dark, but that property bears no relation to this picture.