The Night of the Following Day is a very weird 1969 film with Marlon Brando, Richard Boone and Rita Moreno, based on a novel by pulp writer Lionel White. White also wrote Clean Break, which later became The Killing by Stanley Kubrick, as well as the novel that Pierrot Le Fou is very loosely based on. When Kubrick first approached White, he was apparently also interested in a film of The Night of the Following Day but opted for The Killing instead, supposedly because there was some kind of ban on kidnapping-focused plots at the time.
This film was directed by Hubert Cornfield, a hack who had made a few movies in the 1950s, including Pressure Point with Sidney Poitier and Bobby Darin. He made just one more feature after The Night of the Following Day plus a bit of TV, but his career pretty much dropped like a rock after this one
Brando and Boone kidnap a young woman played by Pamela Franklin, and take her to a hideout in the home of stewardess Moreno, who is a drug addict. There’s a double-cross plot, and a lame twist at the end. It was meant to be Moreno’s comeback role after refusing to play the “sexy Latina” parts that she was being offered, but it didn’t help her career one iota. Ex-boyfriend Brando had demanded the part for her.
This was a weird period for Brando, during which he gave one of his best performances in Burn! but was also doing a bunch of weird movies in Europe, before landing The Godfather. He had a cameo in Candy; the lead in Chaplin’s last film, The Countess From Hong Kong, with Sophia Loren; and was basically in the wilderness after burning a lot of bridges in Hollywood. Here he’s in great physical shape with a mop of bleached-blonde hair, but he doesn’t have a lot to do. When you read about the production, it’s clear that he didn’t want to be there and messed with the director constantly—so much so that Boone stepped in and directed the ending. Things broke down to such an extent that they had to resort to a freeze-frame to end the film due to Brando’s constant deliberate gurning.
There’s some odd, psychedelic editing at times, with Belgian cinematographer Willy Kurant at the helm. Kurant had shot Masculin Féminin with Godard, and also worked with Agnes Varda, with Orson Welles on The Immortal Story, and with Serge Gainsbourg on several projects. Later on he shot The Killing of America and Tuff Turf as well.
It’s a late 60s curiosity, and the main reason to see it is Brando. He’s half terrible, but brings a physicality to the role that makes it interesting. You do end up wishing that Kubrick had made it, because it doesn’t work all that well—and it could have done. If you’re intrigued by the cast and the concept, you should seek it out.
This Blu-ray from Indicator includes an archival audio commentary with Cornfield, a lengthy archival video interview with Moreno done by Matthew Sweet, a 20-minute featurette about the film from historian Neil Sinyard, the film’s trailer and Joe Dante’s Trailers from Hell commentary, plus an image gallery. The limited-edition booklet features a new essay from Jeff Billington, archival interviews with Cornfield and Brando and contemporary critical responses.