Cast & Crew
In New York City, twenty-four-year-old Robin "Bobbie" Williams runs panicked through darkened streets, until she finds a taxi. Noticing that she is injured, the driver introduces her to Dr. Mitchell, whose office is in her apartment building. Mitchell, a psychologist, offers to call a physician, but she refuses. Afterward, from her apartment, she phones the Beaumont, a restaurant frequented by her boyfriend, Larry Taylor, but he is with another woman, Lisa, and signals the maitre d' to say he has left. In the morning, Bobbie returns to Mitchell's office, wanting to talk, and says that she was abandoned at eight by her mother after the death of her father and reared by an unloving aunt and uncle. She claims to be a model, but when Mitchell continues to probe, she defiantly reveals that she is an expensive "call girl." After making an appointment with the doctor for later that day, Bobbie returns to her apartment and finds Larry waiting. She tells him that she knows about the other woman, but unrepentent, he explains that he was checking out Lisa as a favor to Rowena Claiborne, a procurer who refers "work" to them. When Bobbie realizes that Larry knew she was injured, yet did nothing to help her, she throws him out. That afternoon, Bobbie tells Mitchell that she was lonely until she met Larry at a party, and then relates what happened on the previous night: Larry drives her to her "job," promising to wait for her at the Beaumont. As she introduces herself to Mr. Shelton, a polite sexagenarian who seems to have a romantic streak, Larry goes to the Beaumont and greets a habitually inebriated Rowena and her paramour/business partner Swagger. As Shelton suavely invites Bobbie into his bedroom and begins to beat her with a cane, Rowena, who has arranged for Bobbie to meet Shelton, asks about her and says she does not usually use a "new girl" for "something this special." Rowena soon realizes that Larry did not tell Bobbie the full information about her client's sadistic tendencies. After escaping Shelton, Bobbie runs through the streets, while Larry listens to the inane chatter of young Lisa, who naïvely desires a hedonistic lifestyle. He takes her to his apartment, unaware that Bobbie sees them enter his building. In the present, when Bobbie ends her story, Mitchell asks if she had been happy with Larry before last night and she tells him they are planning to marry after she makes enough money for Larry's "big plans." That evening, Larry wins Bobbie back by promising to marry her soon. Bobbie almost ends her therapy with Mitchell, but then decides to have a few more sessions. Lying on the couch, she remembers how her miserly uncle resented caring for her and confesses her fantasy in which she is a princess who sentences her relatives to death. By immersing herself in fantasies, she says, she avoids thinking of her clients as real. Later, after Swagger arranges with a businessman to provide women for two major clients, Rowena prepares Bobbie and the first-timer Lisa to pretend to be "nice girls on the town." The job sours when Lisa has second thoughts about having sex, and her "date," the spoiled corporate scion Jason Franklin, Jr., becomes impatient and abusive. Bobbie, who has been paired with Al, tries to help her, but blurts out that it is Lisa's "first job." Both men are surprised to learn they have been set up with "professionals," and an indignant Jason grabs Lisa's purse and reads her identity card, which states that she is the daughter of a prominent Tennessee judge. Backing her toward a large window, he threatens to tell her father, as she, in shame, stumbles and falls out the hotel window to her death below. Although Swagger arranges for her death to be deemed "accidental," Larry accuses Bobbie of ruining their financial opportunities. He slaps her, but her fear of being alone prompts her to beg forgiveness. Giving her one "last chance," he orders that she turn over all the money she makes, not to question with whom he spends time and to do what she is told. Later she tells Mitchell that she must have been "crazy" to agree. Many sessions later, she realizes that, when Larry orders her about, it reminds her of a demanding grandmother, who seemed to care for her. Six months later, she recalls how she was sexually molested by a delivery man, who calmed her tears by promising her anything she wanted. Afterward, when Larry wants her to accept two jobs from Rowena, Bobbie refuses, as she is tired of feeling like two different people and being treated like merchandise. Larry tries to undermine her confidence by saying she should see a "headshrinker," but upon learning about her therapy, attempts to sabotage her treatment by insulting the doctor. Although Bobbie quits her job as a call girl and leaves Larry to find respectable employment, she still misses him. Rowena, who is unhappy with her similarly parasitical relationship with Swagger, warns Bobbie that Larry is worse than most men, and advises her to find a man who pays his own way. She also reveals that Larry had been simultaneously wooing Lisa. After finding a job as a file clerk, Bobbie has nightmares that her co-workers will uncover her past. Anxious about losing his source of income, Larry calls to make amends, but Bobbie rebuffs him. When a former client recognizes her at work, Bobbie is petrified that he will inform her colleagues. At Mitchell's suggestion, Bobbie studies art at night school and reluctantly agrees to go on a date with her teacher, Dan Bolton. After a delightful day in Central Park, Dan tries to kiss her, but she runs from him in confusion. Later, she laments to Mitchell that what he wanted was "dirty" and that she cannot "mix up" affection with sex. Mitchell tries to explain that, growing up without love as she did, she was able to function as a call girl because it validated her feelings of worthlessness, but that she and Dan share genuine affection. Despite Mitchell's warning that Larry's problem with masculinity manifests itself as a need to conquer, she returns to him, believing that she loves him, and later reports that he agreed to marry her. Anticipating nuptuals and a honeymoon, Bobbie becomes angry when Larry wants her to accept another job from Swagger. When he slaps her, Bobbie finally realizes that she is able to say no to him. Now confident that she can change, she leaves him permanently.
Jo Anna March
Theoni V. Aldredge
Max J. Rosenberg
Jack Wright Jr.
The working titles of the film were The Call Girl, Girl in the Night and Girl in the Dark. At the beginning of the film, before the Warner Bros. logo, appear the words: "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness...," which is the motto of the Christopher Society. The Christopher Society was founded in the 1950s by a Jesuit priest who wanted to combat violence and negativity in the media.
The onscreen credit for the literary source reads: "Based on the social and psychoanalytical study The Call Girl by Harold Greenwald." Greenwald, who died in 1999, was an expert on the psychology of prostitutes. His book began as a doctoral dissertation and became a best-selling publication that was translated into seven languages. As noted in his Los Angeles Times obituary, he "broke ground in humanizing prostitutes by tracing family experiences and social forces that led women to that life."
As noted in the New York Times review, the "unraveling" of "Bobbie's" problems are depicted by an "interplay of direct action and re-enactments...in flashbacks from the couch." The flashbacks, as well as the suggestion of time passing, are depicted using montages of film clips superimposed and revolving around each other, sometimes distorting the images, and hypnotic music and voice-over treated with an echo chamber effect.
Although their appearance in the film has not been confirmed, Hollywood Reporter news items add Ralph Roberts, Ralph Stanley and Nancy Baker to the cast. According to Hollywood Reporter news items and production charts, Girl of the Night was shot on location in New York City and at Gold Medal Studios in the Bronx. Early in the film, when "Dr. Mitchell" asks Bobbie questions about her occupation, she shows her annoyance by saying, "Let's not play What's My Line?." She was referring to the popular quiz program, which was broadcast between 1950 and 1967 and was one of television's longest running game shows.
A November 1960 Variety news item reported that the National Catholic Legion of Decency, which was concerned that the film was "questionable entertainment for the motion picture industry," awarded the film a "separate classification," thus avoiding awarding the film the "C" or comdemned rating. The director, Joseph Cates, claimed that his "approach [to the material] is devoid of any lurid, graphic details; instead...is a study along psychiatric lines" and that the studio had assured him that the "ad campaign would be marked by an absence of any kind of 'low exploitation sell.'" According to the news items, the "Legion noted the film [was] done in serious quasi-documentary fashion but because of its subject matter it is fit only for 'a specialized and mature audience and its exhibition should therefore be restricted.'" The news items also noted that Warner Bros.' attempt to market the film "in good taste apparently was a factor in the Legion's 'separate classification' determination," but speculated that local exhibitors might choose to forgo the studio pressbook and put "jazzed-up stress on the prostitute angle." The Variety article concluded that the "Legion's call for self-restraint" would then "seem to be partially falling on deaf ear."
Released in United States Fall October 1960
Released in United States Fall October 1960