Cast & Crew
While slumming with friends at Chez Mamie, a San Francisco nightclub, socialite Cathy Mallory becomes entranced by the original piano playing of Dan Evans. Assuming that Cathy feels only pity for him, the blind and bitter Dan drives her away with insults. Despite Dan's rebuff, Cathy's preoccupation with the musician grows, and she returns to Chez Mamie a few nights later, but learns from Chick Morgan, the club's band leader and Dan's best friend, that he has quit. Though sympathetic, Chick explains to Cathy that Dan, who has been blind for a year and a half, is not interested in romancing a rich, sighted woman. Determined to help and nurture Dan, the music-loving Cathy arranges to "bump" into him and Chick on the beach and pretends to be a blind woman named Mary Willey. As Mary, Cathy asks Dan to teach her how to play the piano and invites him to her home. Then on Chick's advice, Cathy rents a "clean but crummy" apartment with her longtime companion, Mrs. Willey, and pretends to be poor. Later, after Cathy, Mrs. Willey and Dan spend an enjoyable evening out, Dan invites them to his and Chick's apartment. There Dan begins to open up to Cathy and tells her that he became blind after a drunk driver crashed into the soda shop where he was eating and caused the window glass to cut his eyes. Touched by Cathy's gentleness, Dan finally finds the courage to resume work on the piano concerto he started composing before the accident. When Chick later tells Cathy that Dan's blindness might be cured by an operation performed by a New York specialist, but that he will never accept "charity," Cathy decides to sponsor a music writing contest with a $5,000 first prize, confident that Dan's concerto will win. As hoped, the contest inspires Dan to overcome all of his insecurities and complete his concerto. Dan, Cathy, Mrs. Willey and Chick then relax together at a lake resort, and Dan thanks Cathy for encouraging him. Later, on Christmas Eve, Cathy informs Dan that he has won the contest and that world famous pianist Artur Rubinstein, one of the judges, will be performing his concerto at Carnegie Hall in the spring. While Cathy anxiously waits in San Francisco, Dan goes to New York with Chick for his operation. The surgery is a success, but the seeing Dan has mixed feelings about the blind Cathy and refuses to write or talk to her. Concerned, Cathy goes to New York and decides to present herself to Dan as the contest's sponsor. Although the much-toasted Dan is soon entranced by the rich and sophisticated Cathy Mallory, he admits to her that he is still thinking about the blind woman he left in San Francisco. Hopeful that Dan will eventually recognize his love for "Mary," Cathy refuses to reveal her impersonation to him. Then, while listening to the first performance of his concerto, Dan finds himself recalling his days with "Mary" and tells Chick that they are taking the next train to San Francisco. Flying there, Cathy arrives at "Mary's" old apartment ahead of Dan, and greets the surprised and overjoyed composer with a kiss.
New York Philharmonic-symphony Orchestra
John O. Aalberg
Russell A. Cully
Albert S. D'agostino
Jack J. Gross
Dick Irving Hyland
Dick Irving Hyland
Oberon had been an international star since the mid-1930s, thanks to her exotic beauty and to her movie mogul husband, Hungarian-born producer Alexander Korda. By the mid-1940s, Oberon, now in her thirties, was divorced from Korda. She was freelancing at various studios, and her stardom had begun to fade. Night Song, made at RKO, was her only 1947 release. Co-star Dana Andrews's breakthrough film was Laura (1944), and he'd recently scored a major hit as the aviator returning to civilian life in The Best Years of our Lives (1946). As a result, Andrews got top billing.
Both Ethel Barrymore and Hoagy Carmichael were also recent movie stars, though both had had distinguished careers in other areas. Barrymore had made an occasional film starting in the silent era, but had primarily worked on the stage. It was not until she retired from the theater in 1944 that she moved to Hollywood and dedicated herself to working in the movies, where she was handsomely paid and could be counted on to add class to a film. In Night Song, Barrymore plays Miss Willey, Cathy's aunt and confidante, who gets some of the best lines in the film, such as "My heart's an old wastepaper basket, filled with unpaid bills and paperback novels" uttered in her distinctively husky voice. Barrymore biographer James Kotsilibas-Davis writes that she was paid "her customary $100,000" for the film, and that she and Oberon had the two best dressing rooms on the lot, "which reportedly peeved Maestro Eugene Ormandy."
Carmichael was a popular composer, pianist and singer, best known for the pop standard "Stardust." Beginning with To Have and Have Not (1944), Carmichael acted in films, usually playing a laid-back musician, not a stretch for the affable Carmichael. In Night Song, he plays Dan's sidekick, and plays and sings a nonsense ditty he composed, "Who Killed 'Er."
In one of the key scenes of the film the piano concerto written by Andrews's character (actually composed by Leith Stevens) is played at Carnegie Hall by Artur Rubinstein and the New York Philharmonic. Even though Night Song received mostly negative reviews, Time magazine noted that the film "earns a modest but honorable corner in movie history on two counts. A piece of music is played straight through without cuts or that customary desperate wandering that suggests that it hates music and is bored sick. And for once a movie set of Carnegie Hall does not look like a set for Dante's Purgatorio sculptured out of Ivory Soap...With electrifying effectiveness, it looks just like Carnegie Hall."
The sumptuous cinematography for Night Song is by Oberon's then-husband, Lucien Ballard, who had learned lighting as an assistant to the legendary Gregg Toland, and had worked with director Joseph von Sternberg. It was Ballard who had designed a lighting technique that camouflaged facial scars that Oberon had gotten in a car accident. The film's producer was Harriet Parsons, daughter of gossip columnist Louella Parsons.
Director: John Cromwell
Producer: Harriet Parsons
Screenplay: DeWitt Bodeen, Frank Fenton, Dick Irving Hyland, based on a story by Hyland
Cinematography: Lucien Ballard
Editor: Harry Marker
Costume Design: Orry-Kelly
Art Direction: Albert S. D'Agostino, Jack Okey
Music: Leith Stevens
Cast: Dana Andrews (Dan), Merle Oberon (Cathy), Ethel Barrymore (Miss Willey), Hoagy Carmichael (Chick), Artur Rubinstein (himself) Eugene Ormandy (himself), Jacqueline White (Connie), Donald Curtis (George), Walter Reed (Jimmy).
BW-103m. Closed Captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri
The working titles of this film were Counterpoint and Memory of Love. RKO borrowed Dana Andrews from Samuel Goldwyn's company for the picture. Contemporary news items add the following information about the production: Composer Leith Stevens wrote his Concerto in C Minor especially for the film. Artur Rubinstein reportedly added the concerto to his concert repertoire months before the film's release. For Rubinstein's tour, Stevens lengthened the concerto by eight minutes. To enhance his performance, Andrews wore specially designed opaque contact lenses, which rendered him sightless, during his "blind" scenes.
Although producer Harriet Parsons took a crew, including RKO sound department head John Aalberg, Aalberg's assistant, Steve Dunn, and sound engineer Earl Mounce, to New York to record the concerto at Carnegie Hall, New York Times reported that because of difficulties in moving sound equipment in and out of the hall between concerts, the entire concerto scene was finally shot on a replica set in Los Angeles. Other scenes in the film were shot in San Francisco, Trancas Beach and Lake Arrowhead, CA, and in various locations in New York City. Modern sources note that the picture lost $1,040,000 at the box office. Andrews reprised his role in a May 29, 1950 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast, co-starring Joan Fontaine.
Released in United States Fall November 10, 1947
Released in United States Fall November 10, 1947