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Nightmare (1956) starring Edward G. Robinson, Kevin McCarthy
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Nightmare (1956) starring Edward G. Robinson, Kevin McCarthy

A jazz musician has a recurring Nightmare about killing a stranger in an odd mirrored room. And suspects that it was all too real …

Review of Nightmare

Nightmare is a very good film noir. It begins with a jazz musician, who has a strange nightmare. In it, he kills a strange man in an odd mirrored room that he’s never seen before. But when he wakes, he has cuts and bruises from the assault. And a strange key in his pocket …

At first, his brother-in-law, the homicide detective, thinks it’s only a nightmare, due to overwork. But later, after the man directs them to an empty home, and knows too much about the house that he’s supposedly never seen before, his detective instincts start to suspect …

And the guilt-ridden musician tries to commit suicide. The detective saves his life, and stays with him overnight. There, the man tells two short memories in a flashback, and the detective begins to piece everything together.

“And no more shortcuts.”

Rene Bressard to his brother-in-law Stan. Warning him to not attempt suicide again.

Product Description 

SYNOPSIS: Jazz musician Stan Grayson (Kevin McCarthy) wakes up from a dream in which he has killed a man during a struggle in a bizarre mirrored room. However, thumbprints on his neck, a strange key in his pocket, and a haunting, otherworldly musical riff in his head quickly convince him that it was not just a dream. Afraid that he might be a murderer, yet not recalling the events of the nightmare, he confides in his brother-in-law (and New Orleans homicide detective) René Bressard (Edward G. Robinson), who tells him that he’s been working too hard and drinking too much. But as Grayson is almost magnetically drawn back to the scene of the apparent crime, Bressard angrily comes to believe that Stan was lying and knew exactly what he had done. Grayson, paralyzed by his guilt, can barely find the strength to try to clear himself.

McCarthy portrays a sense of overwhelming panic almost as well as he does in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), and Robinson’s tough cop is warmly textured with a sly sense of humor. Nightmare is a far superior remake of director Maxwell Shane’s own first adaptation of the Cornell Woolrich story, Fear in the Night (1947). With a larger budget and better cast, Shane creates a shadowy, hypnotic world of seedy urban nightclubs and cheap hotels; even a picnic on the bayou evokes a feeling of dread. Woolrich would have felt right at home. …Nightmare

Cast of characters

  • Edward G. Robinson (The Stranger, Scarlet Street) … Rene Bressard. Stan’s brother-in-law — and homicide detective. Once they stumble into the house where the murder was committed, he’s convinced that Stan’s “nightmare” story is a lie. After all, Stan directed them to the house in the rain, knew where the key was, where the light switch was, and the mirrored room …. Where a murder was committed.
  • Kevin McCarthy (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, VHS) … Stan Grayson. The man who fears that his terrifying nightmare is actually a memory.
  • Connie Russell (Lady Be Good) … Gina – Stan’s Girl
  • Virginia Christine (Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, The Mummy’s Curse) … Mrs. Sue Bressard. Rene’s wife, Stan’s brother. She and Rene are expecting their first child.
  • Rhys Williams (The Bells of St. Mary’s) … Deputy Torrence. Police officer assigned to keep an eye on the house …. Where a murder was committed a week ago.
  • Gage Clarke (I Want to Live) … Belknap / Harry Britten. The murdered woman’s husband.
  • Marian Carr (The Indestructible Man) … Madge Novick
  • Barry Atwater (Star Trek The Original Series: The Savage Curtain) … Capt. Warner
  • Meade ‘Lux’ Lewis (New Orleans, It’s a Wonderful Life) … Meade
  • Billy May and His Orchestra … Billy May and His Orchestra


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