7 January 2009 | Michael_Elliott
Star in the Night (1945)
**** (out of 4)
Brilliant updating of The Nativity Story has a small diner owner (J. Carrol Naish), a bitter man, opening his doors to a wide range of people on Christmas Eve. Included in this group are a hitchhiker (Donald Woods), a couple expecting a baby and three cowboys. Even though this film only runs 21-minutes I still think it's one of the best of the decade. The film won an Oscar for Best Short but it also marks the directorial debut of Don Siegel who would go onto direct several Clint Eastwood films. The movie tells a story we're all familiar with but it takes it to the next level with its warm characters and strong message. There's a mysterious undertone to the hitchhiker character that really reminds me of something we'd see decades later in The Twilight Zone. The future TV shows had the same feelings that are present in this film, which of course was made years later. Another strong thing are the performances with Naish leading the way. Naish was always a fine character actor but his performance here is chilling and might be the best I've ever seen from him. The same with Woods who brings so much life to his character even though he says very little. This film is flawless from start to finish so it's a real shame more people don't know it but thankfully Turner Classic Movies show it each year around the holiday.