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A farmer is framed for murder and railroaded into an insane asylum by his ambitious sister and her doctor husband.
On a winter evening in Scandinavia, Salem, an escaped inmate from a local asylum, runs across the snowy landscape clad only in his underwear, socks and shoes to the isolated, run-down farm he used to own. Pausing by the kitchen window, Salem sees his sister Ester inside arguing with her husband, Dr. Anton Jenks, and Salem's other sister, Emmie. Salem then climbs up the side of the house and enters Anton's small private office through the attic window. While Salem rifles through Anton's medical equipment, he overhears Emmie accusing Anton of mismanaging the farm and staunchly refusing to sell the property. In the attic, Salem takes several morphine ampules and a syringe, a bulky paperweight and one of Anton's ties. Placing several more ties in Anton's medical bag, Salem then climbs back out the window and races off into the cold night to the home of his former girl friend, Britt Torens whom he strangles with the tie. Later, Britt's father contacts Anton to report her death. At the Torenses' home, after Anton verifies that Britt has been strangled, Mr. Torens is puzzled when he spots the ties in Anton's bag. The area police inspector arrives with a police physician who confirms the murder was accomplished with a smooth, soft cloth. Back at home, Anton accuses Ester of placing the ties in his bag. Confused, Ester denies the accusation, provoking Anton to then blame Emmie, who he insists is trying to blackmail them. Ester insists that Emmie knows nothing about the fact that two years earlier Anton and Ester framed Salem for the murder of a drunken farmhand that they committed themselves. Anton points out that the family pet parrot witnessed the murder and several times has mimicked Ester's encouraging cries to Anton during the murder. When Ester insists that Emmie has no idea about the murder, Anton reveals that he is missing some morphine and intends to search Emmie's room. Although Emmie is asleep in bed, Anton and Ester creep into her room and look through her dresser until they accidentally knock over a lamp. Puzzled when Emmie does not stir, Anton and Ester discover that the side of her head has been bashed in with Anton's paperweight. Horrified, Ester rushes out of the room and locks Anton inside before telephoning the police. When Anton's pleas to Ester go unanswered, Anton turns on the caged parrot who has repeatedly called out "Hit him, Anton." Hurling the cage to the floor, Anton tries to attack the bird who flutters about before diving into the closet. When Anton follows he is stunned to find Salem hiding there and faints. Concerned by the sudden quiet, Ester returns to find her semi-conscious husband babbling about seeing Salem. Anton then telephones the asylum, but they report that Salem is asleep in his cell. The inspector arrives at the Jenks farm and Anton describes his encounter with Salem. In Anton's office, the inspector takes one of the ties still in the medical bag while Anton relates that he is missing several morphine ampules. After laboratory tests reveal that the tie contains traces of a mentholated cold rub used by Britt, the inspector's assistant Carl prepares to write up a warrant for Anton's arrest, but the inspector considers the evidence too coincidental. Instead, the inspector drives to the isolated asylum where he takes a tour with Dr. Kemp, who demonstrates the impossibility of escape from the fortress-like building. The inspector then meets with Salem, whose cell is decorated with numerous carved figures made by the inmate. When asked about the murders, Salem says Emmie was likely killed by Anton when he discovered she knew about his murder of the farmhand, but offers no suggestion for Britt's death. Salem cautions the inspector that the next victim will likely be his former defense lawyer, Mr. Clemens, as it is clear Ester is having Anton murder anyone who might reopen Salem's case. The inspector then goes to visit Clemens who is suffering from a severe chest cold, to inquire why the lawyer changed Salem's plea from not guilty to not guilty by reason of insanity. When Clemens does not respond, the inspector suggests that a conviction with a not guilty plea might have resulted in an eventual parole, whereas sentencing to an insane asylum is usually for life. Furious when the inspector asks whether the Jenkses bribed him to change Salem's plea, the lawyer demands the inspector depart. Later that night after a game of chess with a friendly elderly guard, Salem uses a contraption he has devised which allows him to extend the cell key he has carved enabling him to unlatch the lock. Using all his blankets, sheets and clothing twisted together to form a crude rope, Salem climbs out a high window on the rope, then, after balancing along a narrow ledge, swings over to a low wall to reach the top of the asylum, from which he slides down the outside wall. Recovering the morphine vials he has buried, Salem heads off half-naked through the snow to Clemens' house. Meanwhile, Clemens' housekeeper, Mrs. Hansen, contacts Anton to report the lawyer's illness. As soon as Anton departs, Ester telephones the police. At Clemens' home, the lawyer threatens to reveal the truth unless Anton vows to keep the lawyer out of any investigation. In the presence of Mrs. Hansen, Anton gives Clemens an injection for his cold, unaware that Salem is hiding upstairs. After Anton's departure, Salem administers a fatal dose of morphine to the insensible Clemens. When the inspector arrives at the Jenks farm, Ester confides she fears for her life as she believes that Anton is insane, demonstrated by his insistence on having seen Salem. When questioned by the inspector, Ester confesses her belief that Emmie and Anton colluded in the murder of the farmhand in order to gain the farm for themselves. Carl recalls that Anton and Emmie were accused of setting fire to the farm to collect the insurance and wonders if the farmhand witnessed this, thus prompting his murder. Upstairs, Salem enters through a window and stumbles slightly causing the parrot to cry out, startling the group downstairs. Hurrying upstairs with the inspector, Ester sketchily relates Anton's obsession with the family bird and fears her husband has returned. Salem, meanwhile, hurries back outside where he cowers, freezing, on the roof. When Ester reveals Anton has been called to attend to Clemens, the inspector and Carl depart in alarm. Ester then hurries to the garage. Overcome by cold, Salem re-enters the house, takes a coat from the closet then follows Ester to the garage where he brutally murders her with an ax. Returning home, Anton hears Ester's screams, but upon discovering Salem, collapses in terror. Salem wipes Ester's blood on the cowering Anton, then flees. The inspector returns to the Jenks farm, having found Clemens dead, and finds the hysterical Anton who confesses to the murder of the farmhand and insists Salem was at the farm to murder Ester. After telephoning in Anton's confession, the inspector returns to the asylum where he finds Salem asleep. Shining a flashlight around the cell, the inspector then sees the Jenkses' parrot crawl out of the pocket of the coat Salem took from the house, sealing Salem's guilt.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||GP||Premiere Info:||World premiere in New York: 10 Feb 1971|
|Release Date:||1971||Production Date:||
|Color/B&W:||Color (Eastmancolor)||Distributions Co:||UMC Pictures, Inc.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Hemisphere (Panama) Productions|
|Duration(mins):||102 or 106||Country:||Denmark and United States|
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the night visitor
kevin sellers 2018-01-30
If you can get past the absurdity of a largely Swedish cast, in a film set in Sweden, speaking to each other in perfect English, and the greater absurdity...
poe boys and girls
this is more in tune with what horror and suspense should be. the intelligence and physical ability that the character max von sydow plays is interesting...
the night visitor ( 1971)
colvin basdeo 2010-11-06
i saw this movie when i was in my teens, the plot was clever, the pace was such that it kept me rivited to the screen and like all great thrillers the...