The Night of Nights

The Night of Nights
Directed by Lewis Milestone
Produced by George M. Arthur
Written by David Ogden Stewart
Starring Pat O'Brien
Olympe Bradna
Roland Young
Reginald Gardiner
George E. Stone
Music by Victor Young
Cinematography Leo Tover
Edited by Doane Harrison
Hugh Bennett
Distributed by Paramount Pictures (1939 Theatrical)
MCA/Universal Pictures (1958 Television)
Release dates
  • December 1, 1939 (1939-12-01) (U.S.)
Running time
86 minutes
Country United States
Language English

The Night of Nights is a 1939 black-and-white drama film written by Donald Ogden Stewart and directed by Lewis Milestone for Paramount Pictures that starred Pat O'Brien, Olympe Bradna, and Roland Young.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

The film received positive contemporary reviews from publications such as The New York Times.[1] Director Milestone went on to other successful productions after the film came out, including Ocean's 11 and Pork Chop Hill.

The movie has no relation to the use of the phrase "Night of Nights" for the night of the Academy Awards ceremony,[8] the album by musical group The Seekers,[9] or the Touhou Project song.


Milestone directed The Night of Nights nine years after winning the 1930 Academy Award for Best Director for All Quiet on the Western Front.[10]


Dan O'Farrell (Pat O'Brien) was is a brilliant Broadway theater playwright, actor, and producer who has left the business. When he was younger, he and his partner Barry Keith-Trimble (Roland Young) were preparing for the opening night of O'Farell's play Laughter by getting drunk. When it was time to perform, they were so intoxicated they ended up brawling on stage and fell into the orchestra pit. The two left the theater and continued drinking, until they learn that they have been suspended. At the same time, O'Farrell learns that his wife, actress Alyce Martelle, is pregnant and has left him for ruining her performance in Laughter as Toni. Despondent, he in left the business and went into seclusion.

Years later, his daughter Marie (Olympe Bradna) locates him and inspires him to return to Broadway. He decides to restage Laughter with its original cast, but with Marie substituting for Alyce in the part of Toni. Hoping to make a glorious return with a show that would be a hit with critics and the public alike, O'Farrell enlists the aid of friends to embark on a full-fledged comeback.



Frank S. Nugent wrote for The New York Times that the work of actors Pat O'Brien and Roland Young, had "been a labor of love and the film has profited accordingly." In noting that the plot centered on "the theatre and some of the curious folk who inhabit it", the newspaper's review stated that the film had an acceptable sentimentality and shared that the story was "an uncommonly interesting study of a man's mind, subtly written and directed, presented with honesty and commendable sincerity by Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Young and Olympe Bradna, and well worth any one's attention." The only objection in the review was that the stage play Laughter, the piece being produced within the film by O'Brien's character of Dan O'Farrell, "seemed to be the most awful tripe."[1]


  1. 1 2 3 Frank S. Nugent (December 28, 1939). "Review: The Night of Nights (1939)". The New York Times. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  2. Jesuits (1938). America. Volume 62. America Press. p. 391.
  3. Focus on film, Issues 1-12. Tantivy Press. 1970. p. 56.
  4. Joseph R. Millichap (1981). Lewis Milestone. Filmmakers Series. Twayne Publishers. p. 93. ISBN 0-8057-9281-3.
  5. Roger Dooley (1984). From Scarface to Scarlett: American films in the 1930s. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. p. 504. ISBN 0-15-633998-6.
  6. John Douglas Eames (1985). The Paramount story. Crown. p. 150. ISBN 0-517-55348-1.
  7. James Robert Parish, Gregory W. Mank (1980). The Hollywood reliables. Arlington House. pp. 114, 139.
  8. Christiansen, Richard (March 30, 1997). "The Giddy, The Silly, The Sensational: The Night Of Nights". The Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  9. "The Seekers - Night of Nights Live! CD". Retrieved August 14, 2015.
  10. Matthew Tobey. "The Night of Nights". Allmovie. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
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