The Big Night

| March 21, 2012

John Barrymore Jr., the late father of actress of Drew Barrymore makes quite an impression in the 1951 teen angst film, The Big Night. He stars as George Le Main, a teen that sees his bartender father get beaten and humiliated by a big shot writer for the local newspaper. Unable to understand why his father was treated this way and the link between the two men, George takes matters into his own hands and sets out to get revenge. Along the way he meets a drunkard of a teacher, a lovely lounge singer and a tender woman that all leave impressions on him, for the rest of his life. Joeseph Losey directed the film, that was based on a novel by Stanley Ellin, that’s a perfect display of the emotional roller coaster that is adolescence.

The first image of George is gives a glimpse into his plight of being a youth. Its his birthday and a group of boys are getting their birthday punches in while he just sits there, not being able to escape anywhere. This is one of many endurances the he must go through as a is forced with a number of growing pains throughout the film. Confronting his naivete, placing trust in adults and the ability to rely on his own behalf are the life blood of the film that make it really stand out for a film about a young teen on a quest for vengeance. There’s a point where George comes to find out that he has racist views hidden within himself. He sees a lounge singer at a night club with a wonderful and soulful voice that melts the entire crowd. Once he sees her outside, he tries to compliment her, but it turns into a racist insult. This action and many others show how difficult it is for him to understand and comprehend the complexities that lie before him in adulthood.

MGM’s Limited Edition DVD pressing of The Big Night only contains the film itself. As per the warning of every film from the collection, it was mastered from the best possible resource that MGM has available. The Big Night can be quite grainy during some portions of the film, but for the most part looks pretty solid for a film that came out in 1951. The Big Night uses elements from a bunch of different genres, like film noir, teen angst and revenge films that all equate to a really strong film that’s worthy of your time. Highly Recommended!

About the Author:

is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in Audio for Visual Media. He works as a freelance location sound mixer, boom operator, sound designer, and writer in his native Chicago. He's an avid collector of films, comics, and anime.
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