I’m a sucker for a good Cold War story. What with the recent Salisbury nerve agent attack not too far from home and all the spy drama hitting the shores again, it’s like it never went away. Well we know it never really did, don’t we? There will always be brinkmanship and contests to see who can swing their todger the fastest in the helicopter move! But you’ll be pleased to know that Gregory Peck didn’t have to resort to that special skill! Night People is set in Berlin just after the Second World War and the start of the bubbling Cold War shenanigans between UK, Russia and the United States and a host of other nations.
Gregory Peck plays Military Policeman Colonel Steve Van Dyke stationed in Berlin, Germany with his friend Sgt. Eddie McColloch (Buddy Ebsen). What with a bit of flirting with his sexy secretary Ricky Gates (Rita Gam) who likes to show off her stockings and open windows!. Still, even with such a gorgeous lady under Steves nose, his passion is elsewhere, a lady of danger with a ridiculous fringe! Steve has the hots for ‘Hoffy’ Hoffmeier (Anita Björk) a battle worn hero fighting with the allies. Now determined to track down the last remnants of hideaway Nazi’s.
Colonel Steve Van Dyke – “Well, that’s some woman no matter which way you look at her. She’s got her own private war.”
Ricky Gates – “The woman is hooked on absinthe and I wouldn’t trust an absinthe drinker as far as I could throw that desk.”
Sgt. Eddie McColloch – “She’s a bloodthirsty little schnitzel isn’t she!”
Soon Colonel Van Dyke will be put into action, to do what he does best, to maneuver things like the pieces on a chess board. To use his assets in the field to gather information, ruffle some feathers and track down any spy networks. The reason? Last night a group of East Germans and Soviet agents had kidnapped a young American soldier called Cpl. John Leatherby (Ted Avery) whilst out on a date. Why have they taken him? what do they intend to do with him? Can Colonel Steve Van Dyke and his small gang get this young man back from the clutches of the dastardly Night People?
The film is written and directed by the wonderfully named Nunnally Johnson. Nunnally is best known for his screenplays, like the classic The Grapes of Wrath, the great Olivia de Havilland mystery The Dark Mirror and a certain dozen convicted murderers in The Dirty Dozen.
His Night People is a great little drama that keeps you on your toes, it’s not essential in anyway but the complex plot and interesting characters are a delight. With the addition of the boisterous Broderick Crawford smashing in like a bull in a china shop playing the wealthy father of the kidnapped soldier. Strangely slotted in within all the scenes of tension and dilemmas there’s space for some banter, a tad of slapstick and a few jokes. Whether it’s the cigarette stealing stressed out doctor Major Foster (Walter Abel), Ricky’s constant opening and closing of windows and the comedy japes of Sgt. Eddie. With the giggles aside, this is a serious Cold War drama and Gregory Peck is absolutely first-rate. Especially of note is the scene between him and Broderick on their first meeting.
Tagline – You have never really seen Gregory Peck until you see him in “Night People“.
No need to rush out for this one but if you see it on your travels I’m sure you will very much enjoy it. If you do, let me know and raise your glass. Thanks for reading…. Mikey Wolf