Appointment with a Shadow

Appointment with a Shadow is a 1957 CinemaScope film noir crime film directed by Richard Carlson and starring George Nader, Joanna Moore, Brian Keith and Virginia Field.

Appointment with a Shadow
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Carlson
Produced byHowie Horwitz
Written byAlec Coppel
Norman Jolley
Based onstory by Judson Philips
(as Hugh Pentecost)
StarringGeorge Nader
Joanna Moore
Brian Keith
Virginia Field
CinematographyWilliam E. Snyder
Edited byGeorge A. Gittens
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • September 1957 (1957-09) (United States)
Running time
72 minutes
CountryUnited States

It is not to be confused with the Tony Curtis film The Midnight Story, which was known in Britain as Appointment with a Shadow.[1]


An alcoholic, Paul Baxter has ruined his career as a reporter. After passing out in Pat O'Connell's bar, he is taken home by his friend, police lieutenant Spencer, to his sister Penny, who is romantically involved with Spence.

Penny has a tip on a story that could change her brother's life, but will reveal it only on the condition that Paul can go 24 hours without drinking. Hungover and shaking, Paul tries.

He needs to be sober and alert at 7 p.m. when a fugitive criminal, Dutch Hayden, is supposed to show up at a restaurant. Spence has information that Hayden has undergone plastic surgery to alter his appearance and is about to leave the country.

Paul makes it on time, but in rocky shape. An accident causes his clothing to be soaked in liquor. Hayden arrives with his stripper girlfriend, Flo Knapp, but just as Spencer's men shoot him dead, Paul spots the real Hayden, whose face has not been changed at all. It's a set-up.

Every attempt made by Paul to persuade Spencer and Penny of the mistake goes for naught because they are certain that he was drunk. When he sets about proving Hayden is alive, Flo takes him captive at gunpoint. Only in the end does Spence realize that Paul was right all along.



The film was originally entitled If I Should Die and was based on a magazine story by Hugh Pentecost. The story was originally adapted by Herbert Dalmas and bought by Paramount in 1950.[2][3]

Film rights eventually went to Universal. In 1956, head of production Don Hartman assigned the job of producing to his former assistant, Howie Horwitz. In 1956 Van Heflin signed to star and the film was going to be one of the studio's big productions of the year.[4]

Filming was delayed. Alec Coppel did a script. In August 1957 it was announced Jeffrey Hunter would star; Hunter was under contract to 20th Century Fox but was allowed to do one outside film a year.[5] The studio assigned Richard Carlson to direct. Carlson was better known for his acting, but also directed and had recently made Hemp Brown for Universal.[6]

Filming began in 23 October 1957. Six days into filming Hunter fell ill with hepatitis and had to drop out; he had only filmed one day.[7] Filming re-commenced on 27 November 1957 with Universal contract player George Nader in Hunter's role.[8][9]


The New York Times said the film "has as much novelty and enchantment as the popcorn machine in the lobby."[10]

See also


  1. APPOINTMENT WITH A SHADOW Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 24, Iss. 276, (Jan 1, 1957): 58.
  2. An Exciting Newspaper Tale, 'If I Should Die,' Is Bought for Screen: Looking at Hollywood Hopper, Hedda. Chicago Daily Tribune (1923-1963); Chicago, Ill. [Chicago, Ill]03 Apr 1950: B7
  3. Dassin buys story by Tabori for film
    Seeks Lee J. Cobb to Appear in 'Companions of Left Hand,' to Be Made in Italy, by Thomas F. Brady Special to the New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]03 Apr 1950: 30.
  4. Louella Parsons: Van Heflin Keeps Mum About Big New Contract The Washington Post and Times Herald (1954-1959); Washington, D.C. [Washington, D.C]08 May 1956: 37.
  5. M-G-M will film Broadway show
    Judy Holliday to Re-Create 'Bells Are Ringing' Role-- Movie Made in Jungle Of Local Origin
    by Thomas M. Pryor Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]07 Aug 1957: 22
  6. Leo M'carey, Fox in 3-picture deal: Director-Producer's First Is 'Marco Polo'--Paramount Signs Miss Bel Geddes Widmark Will be Outlaw By Thomas M. Pryor Special To The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]21 Sep 1957: 23.
  7. Hunter Is Ill, Film Put Off Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]30 Oct 1957: 23.
  8. Green, Paul (2014). Jeffrey Hunter: The Film, Television, Radio and Stage Performances. McFarland. p. 76.
  9. James Stewart gets 'F.B.I.' ROLE: Will Star in Movie Based on Whitehead Book--Trial to Resume in Goldwyn Suit By Thomas M. Pryor Special to The New York Times.. New York Times (1923-Current file); New York, N.Y. [New York, N.Y]04 Nov 1957: 38.
  10. Nason, Richard W. (8 Jan 1959). "The Screen: Appointment With a Shadow' Opens". New York Times. p. 24.

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