There’s nothing more satisfying than coming across an obscure B-movie with a slightly dubious reputation and finding that it’s actually a lot more interesting than might have been expected. Night Was Our Friend, a very low-budget 1951 British mystery thriller, certainly falls into that category.
Sally Raynor (Elizabeth Sellars) has lost her husband. He was killed when his plane crashed in Brazil. Only Martin Raynor (Michael Gough) wasn’t killed. Two years after the crash he walks out of the jungle, in a bad way but very much alive.
This could be a little embarrassing for Sally since she now has a new love, handsome young Dr John Harper (Ronald Howard). Sally and John agree that their dalliance must end. Martin needs Sally now.
None of this is surprising given the experiences he went through in Brazil. He and the three other men were held captive by tribesmen. They eventually escaped but only Martin made it back to civilisation. And he paid a very high price for his escape.
While Sally and John have ended their affair John Harper is still very much in evidence. He is after all an old friend and if he suddenly made himself scarce that would look more suspicious. And perhaps Sally and John still have feelings for one another?
Michael Pertwee wrote the screenplay, based on his own play. The plot is rather outlandish but it has a few nice twists and the outlandishness works in its favour if you’re prepared to go with the flow. This was one of the first films to be directed by Michael Anderson who went on to have a career that was nothing if not varied. He adds a few pleasing stylistic touches that you don’t necessarily expect in a run-of-the-mill low-budget mystery.
Elizabeth Sellars is able to make Sally both sympathetic and ambiguous, the ambiguous quality being vital given the film’s opening sequence. Ronald Howard was an underrated actor and he delivers a solid performance as Dr John Harper, a character about whom we might also feel just a little ambivalent.
Renown Pictures have released this movie along with two other British mystery obscurities on a single DVD. Three short movies on one DVD is really no problem and it’s a very good transfer.
Night Was Our Friend might not be a great movie but it’s interesting and enjoyable and Michael Gough’s performance is enough on its own to make it worth seeing. Recommended.