Vigil in the Night

Vigil in the Night is a 1940 film (produced and distributed by RKO Pictures) based on the 1939 serialized novel Vigil in the Night, by A. J. Cronin. The film was produced and directed by George Stevens and stars Carole Lombard, Brian Aherne and Anne Shirley.

Vigil in the Night
theatrical poster
Directed byGeorge Stevens
Produced byGeorge Stevens
Written byFred Guiol
P. J. Wolfson
Rowland Leigh
Based onVigil in the Night
by A. J. Cronin
StarringCarole Lombard
Brian Aherne
Anne Shirley
Music byAlfred Newman
CinematographyRobert De Grasse
Edited byHenry Berman
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Release date
  • February 9, 1940 (1940-02-09)
Running time
96 minutes
102 minutes (US)
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,004,000[1]


In Great Britain, Vigil in the Night nurse Anne Lee (Carole Lombard) takes the blame for a fatal error made by her sister Lucy (Anne Shirley), also a nurse, and is forced to leave the hospital where they both work. She moves to a large city where she procures a job at another hospital and falls in love with Dr. Robert Prescott (Brian Aherne). Overcoming obstacles and personal tragedy along the way, Anne and Prescott work together to bring about better conditions for the care of the sick as well as fighting a smallpox epidemic which threatens to overwhelm all those around them.

Alternate versions

The European release of the film has a slightly different ending: British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain's voice is heard on the radio in Dr. Prescott's office explaining that Hitler has refused to withdraw his troops from Poland and that, therefore, a state of war exists between Germany and Great Britain. As the United States had not yet entered the Second World War, the American release contains no such radio message and a shot of Anne Lee and Dr. Prescott reacting to the news was deleted.


See also


  1. Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57
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