Vigil in the Night

Vigil in the Night

theatrical poster
Directed by George Stevens
Produced by George Stevens
Written by Novel:
A. J. Cronin
Fred Guiol
P. J. Wolfson
Rowland Leigh
Starring Carole Lombard
Brian Aherne
Anne Shirley
Music by Alfred Newman
Cinematography Robert De Grasse
Edited by Henry Berman
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Release dates
  • February 9, 1940 (1940-02-09)
Running time
96 minutes
102 minutes (US)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $920,000[1]
Box office $1,004,000[1]

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.


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 version of the film has a slightly different ending in recognition of the Second World War because of the pro-Nazi censorship of anti-Semitic Hollywood censor, Joseph Breen [2] The United States, still fraught by pro-Fascist Isolationists trying to stop all American help to the British under the assault of Nazi aggression [3] had not yet entered at the time of its release: 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. The American version of the film contains no such radio message and a shot of Anne Lee and Dr. Prescott reacting to the news was deleted.


Vigil in the Night trailer


Alfred Newman reused his theme music in The Fighting Lady (1944) and Hell and High Water (1954).

See also


  1. 1 2 Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p57
  2. Robert .E. Sherwood ((Boston, 2007) By Harriet Hyman Alonso, P. 181
  3. "The Gathering Storm" (1948) by Winston Churchill
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