This Could Be the Night


1h 43m 1957
This Could Be the Night

Brief Synopsis

A schoolteacher gets a secretarial job at a gangster-run nightclub.

Film Details

Also Known As
Protection Is a Tough Racket
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Release Date
May 17, 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 14 May 1957
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Protection for a Tough Racket" by Cordelia Baird Gross in Harper's (Dec 1954).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,368ft (12 reels)

Synopsis

When virtuous schoolteacher Anne Leeds, a recent Smith College graduate, answers a classified ad for a part-time secretarial job during the night shift at the Tonic nightclub, crude but likeable Rocco, a co-owner of the club, is charmed by Anne's flawless English and innocence about his trade. After hiring Anne, Rocco's younger partner, playboy Tony Armotti, angrily complains that Anne's background does not fit the club's profile. Anne's first night includes witnessing an alleyway brawl and decoding a bookie's message about one of Rocco's bets. Before the club opens, Rocco proudly introduces Anne to the staff including headwaiter Eduordo, band leader Ray Anthony, bartender Mike and busboy Hussein Mohammed. Later that night, while Ray and his orchestra are playing to a crowded house, regular Stowe Devlin, a college graduate like Anne, offers to befriend her, but Anne claims that they are both "tourists" in the rough crowd and she prefers learning from the staff. When a customer's wife calls in search of her adulterous husband, the customer demands that Tony fire Anne after she inadvertently tells his wife that he is at the club. Tony gladly acquiesces to the belligerent man's demand, but when Rocco insists that Tony hire Anne back, he agrees to visit her at the school where she teaches the following day. Once inside her classroom, Tony reluctantly offers Anne the job, but Anne suggests that her self-confidence makes Tony uncomfortable. When Ann gives one of her young pupils money for lunch, Tony remarks that she is naive to be deceived by the student's ruse. Anne defends her decision to trust people and accepts his job offer. Back at the club, after Rocco, Tony and the club's torch singer Ivy Corlane jokingly propose a wager regarding Anne's sexual experience, Ivy ascertains from Anne that the secretary has "no hits, no runs, no errors." Later that night, dancer Patsy St. Clair tells Anne that she aspires to be a cook and compete in a cooking contest for a new stove, despite her mother Crystal's insistence that she concentrate on marrying. When Patsy reveals that she has had no time to create a recipe, Anne offers her a family carrot cake recipe. Meanwhile, a bloody Hussein returns to the club complaining that he must change his name to avoid being beaten up because of his ethnic background. When Hussein explains that his father has agreed to the change providing the teenager pass his algebra class, Ann offers to help him with his lessons. After a night of deftly handling almost all the staff's needs, Anne learns from Hussein that the young women filing up and down the staircase outside the club are going to Tony's apartment. Days later, when Anne is late for work, Rocco reveals his venerable and fatherly side to her when he asks her to be on time to keep him from worrying. Hussein has received a difficult algebra test to finish by the following morning and when Anne offers to find a customer to help him with the test, Tony insinuates that the job requires a more enticing woman and sends Ivy. Meanwhile, Patsy returns from the contest just in time for her number, a newsgirl strip routine in which she reveals, under several layers, a first place cooking contest ribbon. Back in the office, Rocco confides in Anne that bitterness about his past marriage made him pressure young Tony to stay away from decent women. Throughout the night, Tony hushes staff and customers alike when they show signs of disreputable behavior in front of Anne. When Anne finds out later that Tony has told the staff Anne is a "greenhorn," under the guise of protecting her, she runs to his apartment to demand an explanation. Tony claims that maintaining her virtue is his responsibility, but Anne retorts that she is not naive, just inexperienced. After sharing a few drinks, Tony brusquely challenges her to "handle" his pass and kisses her. To his surprise, Anne eagerly returns the kiss. When Rocco calls to report that Anne's landlord, Mr. Shea, is worried that Anne has not returned home, Tony lies to Rocco that Anne is staying with Crystal and Patsy. After a drunken Anne then insists on spending the night and professes her love, Tony hurriedly drives her to Patsy and Crystal's apartment. Rocco, who spotted the couple as they left and assumed Tony took advantage of Anne, punches his friend when Tony returns to the apartment. The next morning, Anne tells Rocco that nothing happened between her and Tony and admits that she loves him, despite Rocco's advice that Tony is a "bad character." Later, Rocco returns to the club and apologizes to Tony. When Tony insists that Anne leave the club, Rocco announces that she has already quit, causing Tony to become strangely sullen. Days later at school, Tony walks into Anne's classroom in midst of a fight between Anne and her students and tenderly orders them to apologize to their teacher. Although softened by Tony's good behavior, Anne refuses his offer of severance pay and his suggestion that she return to New England. Back at the club, Tony's tolerance is tested as each staff member eagerly asks him why Anne quit. He then discovers from Rocco that Anne is now working for Waxie London, an ex-convict who runs a club that fronts a gambling racket. Later that night at Waxie's, Tony is ordering Anne to quit her job when the police raid the club. After helping Anne out a back window, Tony begs her to return to the Tonic. Anne vehemently rejects his offer and flees, but several nights later, Anne is back working at the Tonic, where the staff celebrates her return as Rocco and Tony offer a champagne toast at the bar.

Film Details

Also Known As
Protection Is a Tough Racket
Genre
Comedy
Romance
Musical
Release Date
May 17, 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 14 May 1957
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Location
New York City, New York, United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "Protection for a Tough Racket" by Cordelia Baird Gross in Harper's (Dec 1954).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 43m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
9,368ft (12 reels)

Articles

This Could Be the Night


The sentimental comedy This Could Be the Night (1957) has something of the Runyonesque feel of Guys and Dolls, minus the front-and-center musical numbers. There are production numbers here, but they function more as backdrops to the action. Jean Simmons, who starred as the mission girl in the movie version of Guys and Dolls (1955) just two years earlier, plays a similar role here as a virtuous grade-school teacher freshly arrived in New York City from Smith College. She takes a part-time secretarial job at a nightclub owned by ex-bootlegger Paul Douglas and ladies-man Anthony Franciosa. The humor comes from Simmons being a fish out of water - innocent and trusting in this gangster-ish world.

The picture was received very enthusiastically by the trade papers, with The Hollywood Reporter calling its screenplay "charming and witty" and Variety praising Simmons as "terrific," Robert Wise's direction as "masterly," and the film itself as one "that exhibitors can push with a money-back recommendation." Variety also lauded newcomer Anthony Franciosa: "There is the assurance of a promising film career for Franciosa, so well does he handle his rakish role. He will make a lasting impression on femme viewers."

Franciosa was having a big year. In addition to making his film debut here, he would star in three more major pictures in 1957, including Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd as well as A Hatful of Rain, in which he repeated his Broadway success and received an Oscar® nomination for Best Actor. (He lost to Alec Guinness in The Bridge on the River Kwai.) He also, in 1957, married Shelley Winters.

Providing the top-notch music in This Could Be the Night is Ray Anthony and His Orchestra. The tight, crowd-pleasing band had recently also appeared in The Girl Can't Help It (1956) and Daddy Long Legs (1955) and were at the peak of their popularity. Anthony, a trumpeter, was a former member of the Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey bands, and had formed his own group after World War II. Interviewed for this TCM article in 2008, the still-very-active Anthony recalled the movie as his personal favorite. "I was really surprised and happy when I saw the finished product," he said, "because while I was making it, it felt like nothing was happening. When you sit around for ten weeks and do very little, you wonder what kind of movie it's going to be. But Bob Wise was so subtle and quietly efficient. He did a fantastic job. I was so impressed with how the picture turned out."

Anthony had kind words for the co-stars, too, especially Anthony Franciosa, who became a friend, and Jean Simmons. Years later, he found himself playing a doubles tennis match with Simmons at the home of songwriter Harry Warren. Anthony still plays tennis avidly and still records with his band - when not hanging out with close friend Hugh Hefner, that is!

Julie Wilson sings most of the songs in This Could Be the Night, including "I Got it Bad," I'm Gonna Live Till I Die," and "Taking a Chance on Love." Anthony's band backs these songs and also plays "When the Saints Go Marching in", "Trumpet Boogie," and "Now, Baby, Now," among others.

Robert Wise, a former film editor (Citizen Kane, 1941) who became an extremely versatile director, made this film as his follow-up to the powerful biopic Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), which made Paul Newman a star. He would direct Jean Simmons (and Paul Newman) again immediately afterwards, in Until They Sail (1957).

Producer: Joe Pasternak
Director: Robert Wise
Screenplay: Isobel Lennart; Cornelia Baird Gross (short stories)
Cinematography: Russell Harlan
Art Direction: Paul Groesse, William A. Horning
Film Editing: George Boemler
Cast: Jean Simmons (Anne Leeds), Paul Douglas (Rocco), Anthony Franciosa (Tony Armotti), Julie Wilson (Ivy Corlane), Neile Adams (Patsy St. Clair), Joan Blondell (Crystal St. Clair), J. Carrol Naish (Leon), Rafael Campos (Hussein Mohammed).
BW-104m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Jeremy Arnold
This Could Be The Night

This Could Be the Night

The sentimental comedy This Could Be the Night (1957) has something of the Runyonesque feel of Guys and Dolls, minus the front-and-center musical numbers. There are production numbers here, but they function more as backdrops to the action. Jean Simmons, who starred as the mission girl in the movie version of Guys and Dolls (1955) just two years earlier, plays a similar role here as a virtuous grade-school teacher freshly arrived in New York City from Smith College. She takes a part-time secretarial job at a nightclub owned by ex-bootlegger Paul Douglas and ladies-man Anthony Franciosa. The humor comes from Simmons being a fish out of water - innocent and trusting in this gangster-ish world. The picture was received very enthusiastically by the trade papers, with The Hollywood Reporter calling its screenplay "charming and witty" and Variety praising Simmons as "terrific," Robert Wise's direction as "masterly," and the film itself as one "that exhibitors can push with a money-back recommendation." Variety also lauded newcomer Anthony Franciosa: "There is the assurance of a promising film career for Franciosa, so well does he handle his rakish role. He will make a lasting impression on femme viewers." Franciosa was having a big year. In addition to making his film debut here, he would star in three more major pictures in 1957, including Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd as well as A Hatful of Rain, in which he repeated his Broadway success and received an Oscar® nomination for Best Actor. (He lost to Alec Guinness in The Bridge on the River Kwai.) He also, in 1957, married Shelley Winters. Providing the top-notch music in This Could Be the Night is Ray Anthony and His Orchestra. The tight, crowd-pleasing band had recently also appeared in The Girl Can't Help It (1956) and Daddy Long Legs (1955) and were at the peak of their popularity. Anthony, a trumpeter, was a former member of the Glenn Miller and Jimmy Dorsey bands, and had formed his own group after World War II. Interviewed for this TCM article in 2008, the still-very-active Anthony recalled the movie as his personal favorite. "I was really surprised and happy when I saw the finished product," he said, "because while I was making it, it felt like nothing was happening. When you sit around for ten weeks and do very little, you wonder what kind of movie it's going to be. But Bob Wise was so subtle and quietly efficient. He did a fantastic job. I was so impressed with how the picture turned out." Anthony had kind words for the co-stars, too, especially Anthony Franciosa, who became a friend, and Jean Simmons. Years later, he found himself playing a doubles tennis match with Simmons at the home of songwriter Harry Warren. Anthony still plays tennis avidly and still records with his band - when not hanging out with close friend Hugh Hefner, that is! Julie Wilson sings most of the songs in This Could Be the Night, including "I Got it Bad," I'm Gonna Live Till I Die," and "Taking a Chance on Love." Anthony's band backs these songs and also plays "When the Saints Go Marching in", "Trumpet Boogie," and "Now, Baby, Now," among others. Robert Wise, a former film editor (Citizen Kane, 1941) who became an extremely versatile director, made this film as his follow-up to the powerful biopic Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), which made Paul Newman a star. He would direct Jean Simmons (and Paul Newman) again immediately afterwards, in Until They Sail (1957). Producer: Joe Pasternak Director: Robert Wise Screenplay: Isobel Lennart; Cornelia Baird Gross (short stories) Cinematography: Russell Harlan Art Direction: Paul Groesse, William A. Horning Film Editing: George Boemler Cast: Jean Simmons (Anne Leeds), Paul Douglas (Rocco), Anthony Franciosa (Tony Armotti), Julie Wilson (Ivy Corlane), Neile Adams (Patsy St. Clair), Joan Blondell (Crystal St. Clair), J. Carrol Naish (Leon), Rafael Campos (Hussein Mohammed). BW-104m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning. by Jeremy Arnold

Robert Wise (1914-2005)


Robert Wise, who died at age 91 on September 14, was the noted film editor of Citizen Kane (1941) and other movies before he became a producer and director, and all his works are marked by striking visual rhythms. He is best remembered for two enormously popular musicals, West Side Story (1959) and The Sound of Music (1965), which brought him a total of four Oscars® -- each winning for Best Picture and Best Director. (Wise's directorial award for West Side Story was shared with Jerome Robbins.)

Born on September 10, 1914 in Winchester, Ind., Wise was a child of the Depression who quit college to earn a living in the movie industry. He began as an assistant cutter at RKO, where he worked his way up to the position of film editor and earned an Oscar® nomination for his bravura work with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane. He also edited The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) for Welles, along with several other RKO films.

Wise became a director by default when RKO and producer Val Lewton assigned him to The Curse of the Cat People (1944) after Gunther von Fritsch failed to meet the film's production schedule. Wise turned the film into a first-rate psychological thriller, and enjoyed equal success with another Lewton horror film, The Body Snatcher (1945).

Critical praise also was showered upon Wise's Born to Kill (1947), a crime melodrama; and Blood on the Moon (1948), an unusual psychological Western starring Robert Mitchum. Even more highly regarded was The Set-Up (1949), a no-punches-pulled boxing drama that won the Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Wise moved on from RKO in the early 1950s, directing one of the movies' classic alien invasion films, The Day the Earth Stood Still, for 20th Century Fox.

At MGM he directed Executive Suite (1954), a compelling all-star boardroom drama; Somebody Up There Likes Me, a film bio of boxer Rocky Graziano that established Paul Newman as a major star; and The Haunting (1963), a chilling haunted-hause melodrama. His films for United Artists include Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), a submarine drama with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster; I Want to Live! (1958), a harrowing account of a convicted murderess on Death Row, with Susan Hayward in her Oscar-winning performance; and the crime caper Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).

Wise served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Directors Guild of America. He was awarded the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1966, and the Directors Guild's highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award, in 1988. He remained active as a director through the 1970s. His final film, Rooftops (1989) was a musical with an urban setting that recalled West Side Story.

The films in TCM's salute to Robert Wise are Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Curse of the Cat People (1944), The Body Snatcher (1945), Born to Kill (1947), Blood on the Moon (1948), The Set-Up (1949), Executive Suite (1954), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), B>West Side Story (1959), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) and The Haunting (1963).

by Roger Fristoe

Robert Wise (1914-2005)

Robert Wise, who died at age 91 on September 14, was the noted film editor of Citizen Kane (1941) and other movies before he became a producer and director, and all his works are marked by striking visual rhythms. He is best remembered for two enormously popular musicals, West Side Story (1959) and The Sound of Music (1965), which brought him a total of four Oscars® -- each winning for Best Picture and Best Director. (Wise's directorial award for West Side Story was shared with Jerome Robbins.) Born on September 10, 1914 in Winchester, Ind., Wise was a child of the Depression who quit college to earn a living in the movie industry. He began as an assistant cutter at RKO, where he worked his way up to the position of film editor and earned an Oscar® nomination for his bravura work with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane. He also edited The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) for Welles, along with several other RKO films. Wise became a director by default when RKO and producer Val Lewton assigned him to The Curse of the Cat People (1944) after Gunther von Fritsch failed to meet the film's production schedule. Wise turned the film into a first-rate psychological thriller, and enjoyed equal success with another Lewton horror film, The Body Snatcher (1945). Critical praise also was showered upon Wise's Born to Kill (1947), a crime melodrama; and Blood on the Moon (1948), an unusual psychological Western starring Robert Mitchum. Even more highly regarded was The Set-Up (1949), a no-punches-pulled boxing drama that won the Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Wise moved on from RKO in the early 1950s, directing one of the movies' classic alien invasion films, The Day the Earth Stood Still, for 20th Century Fox. At MGM he directed Executive Suite (1954), a compelling all-star boardroom drama; Somebody Up There Likes Me, a film bio of boxer Rocky Graziano that established Paul Newman as a major star; and The Haunting (1963), a chilling haunted-hause melodrama. His films for United Artists include Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), a submarine drama with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster; I Want to Live! (1958), a harrowing account of a convicted murderess on Death Row, with Susan Hayward in her Oscar-winning performance; and the crime caper Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). Wise served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Directors Guild of America. He was awarded the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1966, and the Directors Guild's highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award, in 1988. He remained active as a director through the 1970s. His final film, Rooftops (1989) was a musical with an urban setting that recalled West Side Story. The films in TCM's salute to Robert Wise are Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Curse of the Cat People (1944), The Body Snatcher (1945), Born to Kill (1947), Blood on the Moon (1948), The Set-Up (1949), Executive Suite (1954), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), B>West Side Story (1959), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) and The Haunting (1963). by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title for the film was Protection Is a Tough Racket. Ray Anthony's credit reads: "And Ray Anthony and His Orchestra." According to a December 9, 1954 Daily Variety article, the magazine story "Protection for a Tough Racket," by Cordelia Baird Gross was originally purchased by Perlberg-Seaton for Paramount Pictures production. By 1955, a 12 January Daily Variety article stated that the article appeared in a December 1954 issue of Harper's magazine and was subsequently purchased by M-G-M for shooting in 1955 with Henry Barman producing.
       A August 7, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item announced that M-G-M re-optioned James Cagney for a lead, presumably for the role played by Paul Douglas in the released film. M-G-M finally slated the film for production in early November 1956 and assigned Joe Pasternak to produce. Although many reviews note that This Could Be the Night was Pasternak's last M-G-M musical, he did make several additional films for the studio. As noted in modern sources, unlike Pasternak's usually vibrant musicals, This Could Be the Night was a comedy in black and white with only incidental song and dance numbers. Several of the songs in the film are not played in their entirety because the film switches back and forth between these stage acts and the narrative.
       This Could Be the Night was the first released film of actor Anthony Franciosa (1928-2006), who appeared in two other films in 1957, A Face in the Crowd and a Hatful of Rain, which also were shot in late late 1956 and early 1957. According to a November 20, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item, four elementary school children won a contest and made their film debut in This Could Be the Night. A November 30, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item lists the children as Billy Stoll, Tony Judd, Sandra Harrison and Sharon Gomez; however, only Billy Stoll is listed on the CBCS. Portions of the film were shot on location in New York City, NY.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States January 27, 1993

Released in United States May 1957

Released in United States Spring May 1957

Screen debut for Anthony Franciosa.

b&w

CinemaScope

Released in United States January 27, 1993

Released in United States May 1957

Released in United States Spring May 1957