The Night Runner


1h 19m 1957

Brief Synopsis

Because of overcrowding at his mental hospital, a schizophrenic is released as an outpatient and told to stay away from emotional situations. He finds a room in a motel near the beach, but when he falls for the daughter of the motel's owner, the father confronts him with his past. This triggers th

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 1957
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 6 Feb 1957
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Night Runner" by Owen Cameron in Cosmopolitan (Oct 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Synopsis

At Woodvale State Hospital, psychiatrist Dr. Neil Crawford recommends six more months of treatment for patient Roy Turner, who has recently begun to recover from a violent schizophrenic episode. In order to make room for needier patients, however, Neil is forced to release Roy, whom he advises to avoid all stress. Roy travels to nearby Los Angeles, where he seeks work as an aerospace draftsman. Unable to bear the interviewer's questioning, Roy escapes onto the first available bus out of the city. The bus stops at the small coastal town of Seaport, whose pretty landscape instantly soothes Roy. Friendly garage mechanic Hank Hansen informs Roy that there is a motel just a few minutes' walk away, and when the bus departs moments later, Roy stays behind in Seaport. Walking to the hotel, Roy is stopped by police sergeant Ed Wallace, who wonders why the newcomer has no car. Roy brusquely dismisses Ed's questions and arrives at the motel, where he is immediately attracted to Susan, the daughter of owner Loren Mayes. Later, while walking along the beach, Roy comes across Susan, who is painting. During their ensuing conversation, Roy reveals that he ran away from home when his abusive father killed Roy's pet seagull, and soon after, his parents died in a car accident. As Susan responds sympathetically, Loren watches in discomfort. Roy and Susan spend the next few weeks together and begin to fall in love. After Hank informs Roy about a job opening at the nearby Martin Engineering plant, Roy admits to Susan that he becomes nervous at interviews and she helps him practice. With her gentle acceptance, Roy grows confident enough to endure the interview, but must wait until five o'clock to learn if the job is his. In the meantime, Susan confides to Loren that she is falling in love with Roy, infuriating Loren, who is suspicious of Roy. In his consternation, Loren spills Susan's nail polish bottle into their cash box. When Susan leaves, Loren opens a letter to Roy from Neil, thus learning of Roy's past hospitalization. That night, after Roy learns that he has secured the engineering job, Loren confronts him and orders him to leave town, calling him a lunatic. Roy pleads with him to reconsider, and when Loren refuses, Roy suffers a psychotic breakdown and kills him. He then cleans up the area, buries Loren's watch to simulate a robbery, and turns away a couple looking for a room. Soon after, a roomer discovers Loren's body, and Ed arrives to question Roy, who feigns innocence. Susan, paralyzed with grief, stays with Hank and his wife Amy for a few days, during which time he makes improvements to the motel. When she visits days later, Susan invites Roy to go out to dinner that night with the Hansens. There, Susan notes that the bills Roy uses to pay for dinner are stained with nail polish, and, although she does not suspect Roy, she insists on giving the "evidence" to the police. Roy, Hank and Amy, however, soon convince her that she is being paranoid, and Susan reluctantly parts with the bills, leaving Roy faint with anxiety. Susan later decides to sell the hotel, and while she and Roy are packing, she finds the partially completed registration slip from the couple whom Roy turned away, which reads only "Mr. and Mrs." Hoping that they glimpsed the murderer, Susan plans to turn the slip in to the police. Just then, the handyman tells Roy in private that he has unearthed Loren's watch, and although Roy hides the watch from Susan, the stress causes him to grow more disturbed. He asks Susan to walk on the beach, and when she has stopped by a cliff, confesses to Loren's murder. Raving that Loren should have left them alone, Roy states that he now must kill Susan, and pushes her over the cliff into the sea. As he walks off, the call of a seagull overhead brings him back to his senses, and he rushes into the water to rescue Susan. After ensuring that she is alive, Roy calls Ed and turns himself in.

Film Details

Release Date
Feb 1957
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 6 Feb 1957
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the short story "The Night Runner" by Owen Cameron in Cosmopolitan (Oct 1955).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 19m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Although the onscreen credits read: "Based on an unpublished story by Owen Cameron," his short story, entitled "The Night Runner," ran in Cosmopolitan in October 1955. Although a January 26, 1956 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that Universal assigned Walter Doniger to write the screenplay for The Night Runner, only Gene Levitt received onscreen credit for the screenplay. This film marked the debut of actor Harry Jackson.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1957

Released in United States Winter January 1957