Nightmare (1956 film)

Nightmare is a 1956 American film noir crime film directed by Maxwell Shane starring Edward G. Robinson, Kevin McCarthy and Connie Russell.[1][2]

Theatrical release poster
Directed byMaxwell Shane
Produced byHoward Pine
William C. Thomas
Screenplay byMaxwell Shane
Based onAnd So to Death
1941 story
by Cornell Woolrich
StarringEdward G. Robinson
Kevin McCarthy
Connie Russell
Music byHerschel Burke Gilbert
CinematographyJoseph F. Biroc
Edited byGeorge A. Gittens
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • May 11, 1956 (1956-05-11) (New York City)
Running time
89 minutes
CountryUnited States

The story is based on a novel by William Irish (aka Cornell Woolrich). The book also became a 1947 film, Fear in the Night, made by the same writer-director . Nightmare had been the original title of Fear in the Night.[3]


New Orleans big band clarinetist Stan Grayson (Kevin McCarthy) has a nightmare in which he sees himself in a mirrored room, killing a man. He awakens to find blood on himself, bruises on his neck, and a key from the dream in his hand.

Grayson goes to his brother-in-law, police detective Rene Bressard (Edward G. Robinson), about the problem but is dismissed. Later, the two men go on a picnic in the country with Grayson's girlfriend and sister. Grayson leads them to an empty house, the house of his dream, when it begins to rain. They are shocked to see that the house has a mirrored room just like in his dream. After it is found out that a murder did indeed take place, Grayson becomes Bressard's number one suspect.

Grayson, stressed out and suicidal, protests his innocence, which makes Bressard dig deeper. That leads to them finding out about a hypnotist in Grayson's building who apparently set up the musician for murder.



The film was the first production of Pine-Thomas-Shane Productions, a new iteration of Pine-Thomas Productions. Pine-Thomas had been based at Paramount from 1940 to 1954. They made a contract with United Artists, but William H. Pine died. The company was renamed Pine-Thomas-Shane to reflect the contribution of long-time screenwriter Maxwell Shane; the "Pine" was Howard Pine, William Pine's son. The film was meant to be the first of three films PTS would make for United Artists, the others being Lincoln McEever and The Mountain Has No Shadow.[4]

Billy May and His Orchestra perform in this version as themselves. They also provide the theme tune, Nightmare in New Orleans.[4]

Even though Robinson was not the hypnotist in the film, he was promoted as such in the film's movie posters.

Filming started 31 October 1955.[5]


The New York Times called it "a modest melodrama with some crooked turns but neat performances."[6] The Los Angeles Times called it "draggy".[7]

See also


  1. Nightmare on IMDb.
  2. NIGHTMARE Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 23, Iss. 264, (Jan 1, 1956): 78.
  3. LESSER WILL STAR EDWARD ROBINSON New York Times 11 Apr 1946: 34.
  4. Drama: Simmons Music Career to Speed in 'Les Girls Los Angeles Times 21 Oct 1955: B9.
  5. Variety. 16 November 1955 Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. 'Nightmare' Is Presented at the Palace New York Times 12 May 1956: 28.
  7. Naish Leads Rebel Gang in Western Los Angeles Times 2 Aug 1956: B9.
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