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  • KimB-331 January 2001
    "This Could be the Night" is a charming fish-out-of-water story about a straight-laced girl who becomes a part-time secretary at a seedy nightclub in New York. Jean Simmons plays Anne, the self-possessed college grad who's trying to expand her horizons by taking a job where she's surrounded by "characters." The club staff quickly find out that she's a "nice girl" -- that is, a virgin -- and tacitly conspire to keep her that way. No-one takes this task more seriously than Tony, one of the owners, and a well-known lothario. Naturally he's falling for her and is determined to keep her out of every man's clutches, especially his own.

    The chemistry between Simmons and Fransciosa sizzles and all the characters' tiptoeing around the word "virgin" definitely gives the movie more sexual overtones than you would expect. The club staff are a likeable bunch -- from busboy Hassan, whose father won't let him change his name until he passes algebra, to strip-dancer Patsy, who really wants to be a cook. The dialogue is snappy and intelligent and the characters stay true to the end.
  • Quite a bit like the recent "Cold Comfort Farm" (though with a little more dramatic weight) in that in both a plucky, well-bred young woman plunks herself down in a hostile environment, rapidly wins her difficult new companions over and quickly whips them all into shape - without so much as breaking a nail in the process. And much like that picture, this too is great fun.

    The director, Robert Wise, has a terrific feel for the nightclub setting and a lot of affection for its colorful inhabitants - always the key for this sort of film working. It's delightfully lively, beautifully paced and works in some fine musical numbers as well.

    Marvelous cast. I love the sly, knowing look on schoolteacher Jean Simmons' face after Tony Franciosa, playing the street smart, cynical nightclub manager, comes to her rescue by breaking up a fight in her classroom. Franciosa was an intense, unselfish actor who was great at portraying inner conflict in a natural way that served the storyline, not his ego.

    The algebra test subplot (yes, algebra) is a bit of a reach, and the film seems to end somewhat prematurely, but an accomplished piece of film-making nonetheless. Leonard Maltin inaccurately describes Paul Douglas' character as a gangster when in fact, he's merely a nightclub owner who, quite understandably, comes into contact with some unsavory people.
  • lynettefb31 January 2007
    I happen to catch "This Could Be The Night" on TCM and loved it. I've never seen it before and wasn't disappointed in the least. It's charmingly quirky with its colorful cast of characters who inhabit the nightclub. Jean Simmons and Anthony Franciosa definitely had incredible chemistry together. The cast of characters around them held their own and were equally appealing. Unfortunately, I was called away during the last ten minutes of the movie and didn't see how it ended. Talk about bad timing! If they don't show it on TCM again, I'll have to buy it. Yes, I liked it that much. I look forward to seeing this one again very soon.
  • Jean Simmons plays Anne, a nice, sheltered girl who inexplicably gets herself a job at a nightclub with a seedy reputation. Rocco (Paul Douglas) is taken by this shy but sweet lady and hires her...even though his grouchy partner, Tony (Tony Franciosa), doesn't seem to like her...or anyone else. She is an odd fit for the place and her initial adjustment is rough...but over time she becomes invaluable and Rocco obviously is smitten with her. Well, at least obvious to everyone but Anne. This is a serious problem as Rocco is a very sweet guy and over time Anne and Tony start to fall for each other--which is obvious since they initially hate each other (a bad Hollywood cliché, I know!). How's all this to play out and what is Anne's future? And what about poor, poor Rocco?

    This is Tony Franciosa's first film, and it's hard to tell since he seems very good in the film. Not surprisingly Douglas and Simmons are very good...as they usually are. Although the film has some obvious clichés, it IS enjoyable. I also liked the film's supporting cast, with the likes of Joan Blondell, J. Carroll Naish and Zasu Pitts on hand...along with some nice singing by Julie Wilson and Niele Adams (who danced a VERY sexy number). My only problem is that the big confrontation portion when Anne quits seems to be stretched out WAY too long...and shortening up the final portion of the movie would have made it even better! Still, a nice and enjoyable film that's worth your time!
  • THIS COULD BE THE NIGHT is an earlier effort for director Robert Wise. He does a good job in this "nightclub musical." Tony Franciosa and Jean Simmons have a great chemistry together in this, and Paul Douglas is very good as the former bootlegger with a heart of gold. There are many fine character actors in this, namely Joan Blondell, Frank Ferguson and, in one scene, Zasu Pitts. Julie Wilson smoulders in her musical numbers, and Neile Adams pops off the screen in hers. It's interesting to see an integrated school classroom here, as there weren't many seen on the screen or on television in 1957. Rafael Campos plays a bus boy who is taunted because of his middle-eastern lineage. He wants desperately to pass algebra so his Father will allow him to change his name. He does a good job here, although today, he would have to show more pride in his name, rather than try to Angelicize it. The colorful characters here are well- drawn, and we care about them. That's what makes spending a little time at the Tonic night club an enjoyable experience. I had the opportunity to see the late Julie Wilson perform in Chicago in 1999. It was while seeing her that I learned about the existence of this movie. She talked about "this little movie I appeared in" as if she had a tiny role. So I was surprised to see that she not only had a substantial part, but sings in several spots in the film, including over the opening credits. A breezy, fun musical from the end of MGMs glory days.
  • This was one of those films that I wish I had seen earlier. In fact, the only reason I saw it was because it happened to be on when I turned on the television and caught my attention... so I rewound TIVO to the beginning.

    I like these quaint old stories... where words like "virgin" have to be danced around. I was also pleasantly surprised to see that Ms. Leed's classroom was integrated (something unusual for period films).

    This is a great story -- one that I am sure Hollywood will eventually remake. Granted, rather than a jazz club run by a former rum runner, it would be a hip-hop club run by a former drug dealer.

    However, I'm not sure how they would handle the Hussein Mohammed character in the post-9/11 era.
  • It's perfect casting in This Could Be the Night, with Jean Simmons as the prudish schoolteacher who wants to learn about life, Anthony Franciosa as the bad boy with good intentions, and Paul Douglas as the big softie who's just asking for a broken heart. That should be enough to sell you on the movie, but just in case it isn't, I'll continue.

    Looking to pick up some extra cash, Jean gets a job in a hot nightclub as a bookkeeper. Paul Douglas instantly takes "Baby" under his wing, but Tony Franciosa thinks she doesn't fit in with their world. He tries to get her to go back to her nice, proper world, but clearly he never saw Guys and Dolls. Jean likes living on the edge!

    The story is good enough on its own, but the acting really makes this movie special. All three are wonderful in their stock parts, and even though you can probably guess what'll happen in the story, you still manage to sit on the edge of your seat while it's happening. Tony and Paul have a believable chemistry together, and the screen sizzles whenever Tony and Jean share a scene. He has such a great balance of restraint and heightened emotions-if you're a fan, you need to rent this movie. If you've never seen him in a movie, this is a great one to start with; you just might get a new favorite screen couple out of it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    From Jean Simmons as a prim school teacher who becomes a secretary in a New York City nightclub to call Douglas as the gangster associated owner to Tony Franciosa as the hot temper manager, down to the minor roles, this is an enjoyable film strictly for the various types alone. Unfortunately, there's a shell of a plot concerning the affections for Simmons from Douglas and Franciosa and the jealousy that arises between the two. Individual characters get Shell's of stories too, but for the most part, that's really not much going on other than the camera sticking its nose into the individual lives without anything of consequence going on.

    Veteran pre-code leading Lady Joan Blondell provides many great wisecracks but her character is pretty insignificant other than to play den mother and protector as hostess of the club to the other women. Neile Adams is amusing as a high class stripper whose real passion is cooking. (She reminded me of the prostitute in the British mini-series "I Claudius" who insulted empress Messalina by telling her that while Messalina slept around as a hobby, her own hobby was gardening.) Veteran cabaret and Broadway vet Julie Wilson gets the opportunity to sing a couple of sultry songs but has little in the way of story.

    A lot of the footage involved teen busboy Rafael Campos' desire to change his Muslim name to an American one, only if he can pass algebra at his unseen fathers demand. While Campos is energetic and extremely likable, the script should have just made him Hispanic because his real life accent is a dead give away to his heritage. Veteran producer Joseph Pasternak and popular director Robert Wise create a nice atmosphere, and the film is extremely entertaining, but there's not much way of substance.

    it's difficult to dislike this drama with musical and comic interludes, but unfortunately, I was left wanting so much more. In spite of that, it leaves the audience with a lot of nostalgia for an era of New York City cabaret life that you can still find if you seek it out.
  • The handsome wide-screen, black-and-white cinematography and '50s-nitery milieu will remind you of "Sweet Smell of Success" -- there's even a nasty Broadway gossip columnist lurking about -- and this uneven MGM musical-comedy-drama plays kind of like a defanged version of that classic. Had it been filmed on location, it might have gotten by on atmosphere, but this is strictly a soundstage Times Square hangout, and there's not much kick to the proceedings. The central quandary: Should "nice girl" Jean Simmons be taking a part-time job as a secretary in a seedy nightclub? It's not an earth-shaking issue, nor are the subplots -- a cooch dancer wants to win a bake-off, a busboy is failing algebra, etc. The denizens of the club are a raffish and likable bunch, and the point, if there is one, is about how all kinds of New Yorkers can coexist. But the Franciosa/ Simmons romance is unconvincing -- it's one of those why-don't-you-grab-her-and-kiss-her affairs, messily and predictably set up -- and the ending feels arbitrary. The main compensation: legendary chanteuse Julie Wilson, with more curves than the B&O, growling out "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die." If this club has such classy entertainment, how come it's populated by so many lowlifes?
  • Jean Simmons never performed without vanity. Even here as a struggling sophisticate (a schoolteacher who takes a part-time secretarial job in a "sleazy" nightclub run by guys named Tony and Rocco), Simmons is coiffed to the gills and everything about her breathes Park Avenue. This inconsequential drama-lite is peopled with lovable low-lifes and features a smoky but mostly scrubbed-clean hot-spot at its center, yet the energy and fake-pizazz may win you over. Paul Douglas and Tony Francisosa work well together as co-managers of the club, and Simmons (nicknamed "Baby"!) is tolerable as the intellectual who improves their personalities. Good supporting cast includes Neile Adams (looking like a cross between Carol Haney and a young Liza Minnelli) as Joan Blondell's daughter, and Julie Wilson as a torchy singer who comes on like Patti Page. Robert Wise directed, under the usual MGM gloss. **1/2 from ****
  • THIS COULD BE THE NIGHT is the sort of marshmallow fluff that producer Joe Pasternak excelled at, given that expensive gloss that late 1950s MGM movies aspired to. Jean Simmons is a primary school teacher who takes an evening job as a secretary/bookkeeper at the night club run by ex-bootlegger Paul Douglas and his partner, Tony Franciosa (in his first screen role). She's a sheltered creature whom everyone wants to protect, and Tony wants her out of the place, but blah blah blah for an entertaining 105 minutes. Pasternak knew how to hire the talent and bring in the tubs of schmaltz, and director Robert Wise could glop it on flawlessly. Chicken fat on Fluffernutter: no wonder Paul Douglas' character has heartburn.

    It's rendered painless by the distraction of various nightclub entertainment numbers like Ray Antony's band, Julie Wilson's singing, Neile Adams as a stripper (who never gets down to less than a bustiere), who wants nothing more than to win a stove and cook pancakes for mother Joan Blondell. It's a Damon Runyon world without the fractured grammar, and carried purely on the charm of the leads. Franciosa seems miscast. Although everyone acts afraid of him, he never impresses me as someone who is actually dangerous, and the plot-driven attraction between him and Simmons never seems more than that. Still, the individual vignettes that make up the movie are amusing and sustain it throughout, even though I need some antacid.
  • JEAN SIMMONS is once again assuming the role of a prim young woman who turns the tables on those who underestimate her irresistible charm in THIS COULD BE THE NIGHT--much like the character of the Salvation Army gal who went to Havana with Marlon Brando in GUYS AND DOLLS.

    But the material is strictly second rate stuff--despite a cast that includes PAUL DOUGLAS as a nightclub owner, ANTHONY FRANCIOSA as a sort of henchman, JOAN BLONDELL in another one of her brassy supporting parts and J. CARROL NAISH in another accented role as a kitchen chef. None of it was intended to break new ground as a romantic comedy, and it doesn't.

    The main appeal is in watching Simmons go through the paces of the "virginal" gal who shakes things up in a seedy atmosphere because she's so good. All of it has a predictable, been there before kind of feeling. The musical numbers conducted by Ray Anthony and his orchestra at least give some color to the nightclub scenes.

    It should come as no surprise that Simmons turns out to be super efficient, Douglas--as her boss--is super gruff, coarse and lovable, and Franciosa, who has a "hate at first sight" relationship with Simmons, is bound to be her romantic interest before the final reel is over. The clichéd script occasionally has some snap, but it's not Robert Wise's finest hour as a director.

    Pleasant enough, but very inconsequential with Simmons looking very lovely but going through her familiar paces, that's all.
  • "This Could Be the Night" has one of those highly improbable plots that could be the basis of a very good comedy - and it is such. The partners of The Tonic nightclub become very protective of the new secretary one of them hires. Rocco is the fatherly figure and Tony Armotti is the young tough guy and playboy who hasn't quite met anyone like "Baby," Anne Leeds.

    Paul Douglas is Rocco and Anthony Franciosa is Tony. They have come up on and become successful businessmen on the wrong side of the tracks. Jean Simmons is Anne, or "Baby" to everyone at The Tonic club. She is an English teacher in New York's public schools and she applies for an evening secretarial job. The first ad she answered was that placed by Rocco, who takes an immediate shine to her. He likes having someone around who can translate his gruff, uneducated manners into civilized discourse - whether on the phone, in business correspondence with food and beverage suppliers, or with customers.

    She is a graduate of Smith College for girls, and right away doesn't fit in with the staff of The Tonic. But for one incident with an irate client, the customers like her. And her innocent - but not naïve and friendly, helpful persona quickly wins over everyone -- from the waiters to the chef, busboy, bartender, band leader and members, and cast of the floor show.

    This is a delightful comedy of life, and thankfully, it doesn't stretch the unbelievability of the plot to the point of wedding bells by the end with Tony and Baby. But, neither does it foreclose on that possibility.

    All of the cast are very good in this very enjoyable film. Besides the leads, some prominent names among supporting actors appear, including former leads from their younger years. J. Carrol Naish as Leon the Chef is one of these, as are Joan Blondell as Crystal St. Clair and Zasu Pitts as Anne's landlady, Mrs. Katie Shea. Julie Wilson is very good as the star singer, Ivy Corlane, and Neile Adams plays her singer and dancer daughter, Patsy.

    Here are some favorite lines from the film.

    Bruce Cameron (played by William Joyce), "Oh, Anne. I'll try once more. How about dinner tonight?" Anne Leeds, "Sorry, Bruce. Thanks anyway." Bruce, "Aw, Anne, what are you planning to be when you grow up - an old maid?" Anne, "Somebody toooold you."

    Ziggy Dawit, columnist (played by Vaughn Taylor), "Well, sitting in a front booth, eating your own food and laughing. You saving money on shills?" Rocco, "Why not? What got ya up so early, Ziggy?" Ziggy, "Oh, I couldn't sleep. What's new?" Rocco, nodding toward Anne, "Her - my secretary." Ziggy, "Oh, so that's what they call it now?" Rocco, to Anne, "He writes a column. They all have dirty minds."

    Ziggy Dawit, columnist, "I want one, Rocco, right out of the same valley."

    Rocco, "You know who she reminds me of? My ex." Tony Armotti, "Well, that must make you happy. How much was it Tina took ya for?" Rocco, "Okay, wise guy. She reminds me of Tina before Tina got to know guys like me... or you."

    Rocco, "Anybody wants me, I'll be at Washing (sic) Market looking at egg plants instead of comics. Believe me, it'll be a relief."

    Ivy Corlane, "Ziggy?" Ziggy Dawit, "Ivy, what you haven't got I don't want." Ivy, "You know, Ziggy, I wouldn't be surprised if you were the smartest man in this room." Ziggy, "And from there where do we go?" Ivy, "Honey, what does 'x' mean to you?" Ziggy, "$50 a week alimony forever. At a moment like this, do you have to mention my ex?"

    Tony, "And from now on, don't work past eleven. I've got a right to some mess around here."
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Robert Wise could direct almost anything, and direct it well, but clearly comedy was not a genre he excelled in. Exhibit A is This Could Be the Night, a distaff take on the Frank Tashlin style that desperately tries to combine elements of The Girl Can't Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? Paul Douglas does the Edmond O'Brien thing as lovable gangster Rocco, who hires sweet young innocent Anne Leeds (Jean Simmons) as his secretary, and Joan Blondell reprises her matronly role from Rock Hunter. Unfortunately, the decision to film in black and white--not to mention the rather pedestrian musical numbers--renders the film a disappointment in contrast to those Tashlin triumphs. On the plus side, Neile Adams, Mrs. Steve McQueen, looks gorgeous in glasses and delivers a sizzling strip tease performance during a number entitled Hustlin' Newsgal. On the other side of the ledger, This Could Be the Night seems to feature a minstrel show, surely an anachronism in 1957 and quite an embarrassment today. All in all, it's not terrible, but lacks the anarchic joi de vivre of Tashlin.
  • Jean Simmons plays Annie Leeds an innocent teacher who takes a part time jo in a nightclub for the money. She has two bosses--gruff but nice Rocco (Paul Douglas) who likes her and obnoxious Tony (Anthony Franciosa) who can't stand her and sleeps with any woman he can get. Guess who she falls in love with.

    Utterly predictable but pleasant and well-done. You know exactly where this is going but I was entertained. It's also kind of fun the way they dance around the fact that Simmons' character is a virgin. Back in 1957 you still couldn't say "virgin" on the screen so you had to make it clear other ways. The film does succeed but it seems funny today. The acting varies. Simmons is good and Douglas is obviously having a whale of a time in his role. Oddly Franciosa is pretty bad but it was his first film.

    Pleasant little movie.
  • This Could Be The Night casts Jean Simmons as a schoolteacher from Massachusetts recently moved to New York and getting an extra part time job as a secretary in a nightclub. That in itself seems rather incongruous, but owner Paul Douglas has decided the place needs a bit of toning up as does he. His business methods leave a lot to be desired as well and Simmons does bring some order to that part of his life.

    Partner Anthony Franciosa in his screen debut isn't too happy about Simmons being around, but he's thinking with something else besides his business. He's also not used to being around nice girls like Simmons.

    The problem this film has is that Douglas's part is so ill defined. Is he a romantic rival for Simmons or just taking a fatherly interest in her? The story never really comes down one way or the other and I couldn't figure out how to view the relationship.

    Frank Ferguson and Zasu Pitts play a middle aged couple who rent Simmons a room. This could never fly today if someone wanted to remake This Could Be The Night, the two of them thinking they have a right to interfere in her life. Take the rent mind your own business. Ferguson looked like Mr. Roper in Three's Company and that was played for laughs. Zasu Pitts was very subdued here, her usual comedy completely absent.

    Rafael Campos playing an Arab American busboy who is trying to get his high school diploma is earnest and touching. In the supporting cast of some veteran players the young man stood out.

    This Could Be The Night is like a 2 and a half sided triangle with Paul Douglas reluctant to join.