Hot Summer Night


1h 26m 1957
Hot Summer Night

Brief Synopsis

A hot-shot reporter risks his life to land an interview with a notorious crook.

Film Details

Also Known As
Capital Offense
Genre
Drama
Crime
Release Date
Feb 15, 1957
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White
Film Length
7,688ft

Synopsis

Ambitious and unemployed newspaper reporter William Joel Partain is on his honeymoon in the Ozarks when he reads in the local newspaper about gang leader Tom Ellis' latest bank robbery in Sedalia, Missouri. Knowing that the gang is rumored to have a hangout in the Ozark foothills, Bill decides to pursue an exclusive interview with Ellis to help him secure his next newspaper job. Without telling his wife Irene about the plan, Bill suggests they cut their honeymoon short so he can return to Kansas City to find work. After Irene reluctantly agrees, they immediately drive towards Kansas City. Bill, realizing that Ellis' girl friend, Ruth Childers, can lead him to the gang leader, stops at a down-and-out bar in Chatsburg, the town in which Ruth resides. When Bill asks several patrons what street Ruth lives on, the bar becomes suspiciously quiet. A young man named Kermit orders Bill to leave, but Bill resists and a fistfight between the two men ensues. Soon after, county deputy Lou Follett breaks up the fight and questions Bill. When Bill vaguely explains that Ruth can lead him to a newspaper story, Lou offers to take Bill to her, but warns him that Chatsburg is a "bitter town" which feeds on Ellis' generosity and reputation. Irene, intimidated by the earlier violence, protests that they should leave Chatsburg, but Bill is too eager to follow the story. After checking into a hotel, Bill explains to Irene that he cannot reveal the true nature of his story to her in order to protect her from harm and then leaves with Lou. At Ruth's house, Bill introduces himself as the Kansas City Herald reporter who wrote a story about her years ago. Ruth remembers the story as a favorable one, which explained her relationship with Ellis without incriminating her. Bill asks for help in locating Ellis, promising not to lead the police to him. After Ruth tells him she will consider the proposal, Bill returns to the hotel, where a frightened Irene begs for reassurance that he will not leave again that night. Bill promises to stay, but suddenly Kermit arrives at the hotel to take Bill to Ellis. Kermit warns Irene not to speak of the meeting to anyone or harm might come to Bill. As they wait outside town to be taken to Ellis' hideout, Bill asks Kermit why he chose to join the gang. The young man replies that as the son of the poor farmer with few job opportunities locally, Kermit decided to link up with Ellis, whom he reveres for his commitment to robbing the rich to give to the poor. Soon after, burly Native American henchman, Rosey, knocks Bill out then drives him to the hideout. When Bill comes to, Ellis introduces him to the rest of the gang: the nervous killer Elly Horn, Elly's girl friend Hazel and older henchmen Oren Kobble. Ellis, furious that Elly shot a Sedalia bank employee and fled the scene with only $100 worth of quarters, forewarns Bill that a confrontation between him and Elly is destined to erupt. Playing upon Ellis' vanity, Bill gets the gang leader to reveal his life story: Ellis, now forty-two years old, was born in the Ozarks and began robbing when he was young. He has broken out of jail several times and returns regularly to Chatsburg, where he enjoys wielding power over the local citizens because of his generosity. Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Lou, suspecting that Bill is meeting with Ellis, reminds Irene that the town feels threatened by Bill's inquiries. After interviewing Ellis all night, Bill suggests that he can sell the story to any paper in the country. Elly then insinuates that Bill is lying about being employed by the Kansas City Herald ; however, Ellis disregards Elly's remarks and continues to brag. Elly grows angrier and finally shoots both Ellis and Kermit. Assuming they are dead, Elly orders Rosey to carry the bodies away. He then orders Bill to write a coded ransom message to be printed in the classifieds of the Kansas City Herald , asking the paper for $50,000 ransom in return for the reporter. Back in town, Irene, terrified for her husband, begins to ask where Ruth lives, but all her inquiries are met with stern silence. Meanwhile, Oren delivers the ransom note to newspaper night editor Wayne in Kansas City, who finds Irene through the Ozark hotel registeries and calls to tell her about the classified that suggests Bill is being held for ransom. Pending the publisher's approval, Wayne plans to run a return ad promising to "finance" Bill's return, but insists he can not ensure Bill's safety. After hanging up, Irene's exasperated pleas for help touch the hotel's chambermaid, who tells her where Ruth lives. Meanwhile at the hideout, Oren returns from Kansas City to a psychotic Elly who is ready to kill Bill and extremely anxious for the next morning's newspaper delivery. Back in town, Irene is at Ruth's house when a wounded Kermit stumbles in, reveals that Elly killed Ellis, then dies. Grief-stricken by the news, Ruth refuses to help Irene. Realizing that she must rely on her own resourcefulness, Irene hitches a ride with the newspaper delivery truck driver as he makes his rounds in the early morning hours. When she sees Elly waiting at the mailbox, she concludes that the nervous man must be waiting for the ransom reply. Irene then seeks Lou's help. In a bedroom at the hideout, Bill knocks Rosey out with a roll of quarters and then wrestles the gun from Oren. At gunpoint, Bill forces Oren to enter the other room, where Elly mistakes him for Bill and shoots him. As Bill runs from the house with Elly firing at him, Irene and a carload of police arrive and shoot Elly before he can harm Bill. Days later during the Ellis funeral procession, Bill asks Lou about the future of the town. Lou replies that after years of believing in evil, maybe they will now choose to believe in something good.

Film Details

Also Known As
Capital Offense
Genre
Drama
Crime
Release Date
Feb 15, 1957
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 26m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Black and White
Film Length
7,688ft

Articles

Hot Summer Night


Ads for this late film noir proclaimed it "Hot with the blast of gunfire!" while the trailer suggested it could be the dictionary example for "suspense." Both claims are pretty accurate as this little gem proves to be one of the most powerful, if least known entries in the genre. Leslie Nielsen stars as an out-of-work newspaperman who cuts his honeymoon short to cover a series of small-town bank robberies. He thinks he can use the case to land a good job, but when he arrives in the town where the gang members live, he discovers a wall of silence. Most of the locals actually look up to the leader (Robert Wilke), a latter-day Robin Hood using his ill-gotten gains to keep the town running. The film was co-written by Morton S. Fine and director David Friedkin, a popular writing team from radio and television breaking into filmmaking for the first time (they would go on to write the screenplay for the 1965 classic The Pawnbroker). They lucked out in the casting department, with solid character actors like Wilke, Edward Andrews and Jay C. Flippen giving the film some dramatic heft. They also landed Andre Previn to create the powerful, jazz-tinged score.

By Frank Miller
Hot Summer Night

Hot Summer Night

Ads for this late film noir proclaimed it "Hot with the blast of gunfire!" while the trailer suggested it could be the dictionary example for "suspense." Both claims are pretty accurate as this little gem proves to be one of the most powerful, if least known entries in the genre. Leslie Nielsen stars as an out-of-work newspaperman who cuts his honeymoon short to cover a series of small-town bank robberies. He thinks he can use the case to land a good job, but when he arrives in the town where the gang members live, he discovers a wall of silence. Most of the locals actually look up to the leader (Robert Wilke), a latter-day Robin Hood using his ill-gotten gains to keep the town running. The film was co-written by Morton S. Fine and director David Friedkin, a popular writing team from radio and television breaking into filmmaking for the first time (they would go on to write the screenplay for the 1965 classic The Pawnbroker). They lucked out in the casting department, with solid character actors like Wilke, Edward Andrews and Jay C. Flippen giving the film some dramatic heft. They also landed Andre Previn to create the powerful, jazz-tinged score. By Frank Miller

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The opening and closing credits vary in order. Preceding the opening credits for the film, "Kermit" walks down a neighborhood street and approaches the door of the house belonging to a bank employee in Sedalia, MI. As noted in the Hollywood Reporter review of the film, the radio-television team of Morton Fine and David Friedkin produced and directed the film as their first theatrical feature. A July 2, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item adds Barbara Lang to the cast, however, her appearance in the film has not been confirmed.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter February 1957

Released in United States Winter February 1957