Cult Movie: Marlon Brando and The Night of the Following Day

It might not be Marlon Brando's finest hour but it's still worth revisiting

Ralph McLean



Marlon Brando’s career was pretty much flat-lining by the late 1960s.

Taking on projects for the pay packet rather than the artistic challenge, he was mostly freewheeling through a series of unremarkable films that rarely stretched him or indeed connected with audiences at the box office.

The days where he piled on the pounds and started playing essentially little more than an inflated version of his own media image on screen were still a way off but the work, generally speaking, was simply not up to scratch.

Today it remains a pretty unloved era in the actor’s CV with little affection held for the likes of The Appaloosa or A Countess From Hong Kong

Not everything that he graced in that period was without merit however. The Night Of The Following Day, a strange Euro-flavoured thriller from director Hubert Cornfield, appeared in 1969 and has just been given an impressively appointed Blu-ray release by the good people at Indicator. While it registered another box office bomb at the time it’s screaming out for a little critical reappraisal.


The Night of the Following Day starring Marlon Brando has been released on Blu-ray by Indicator


British cult favourite Pamela Franklin (The Innocents, Legend Of Hell House) plays a young girl who arrives in Paris and is suddenly kidnapped by Brando and his craggy-faced cohort Richard Boone and ferried away to an isolated French beach house where she is to be held until her rich father pays out the requested ransom.

Rita Moreno (veteran of West Side Story and occasional real life partner of Brando) plays a junkie stewardess who’s also involved in the plan to extort the cash.

It's a bog standard abduction plot but Cornfield directs it all with an odd, European stylishness that allows the tension to rise while the issues between the kidnappers escalate accordingly. Muscle-bound and boasting a bizarre blond barnet throughout, Brando looks great as the main villain who has promised the girl that no harm will come to her if her father pays up.

In the dark and twisted character of Boone though, there lies an altogether nastier type and it soon becomes apparent that he plans to assault and kill their captive despite his partner’s wishes.

Marlon Brando's unmistakable presence gives The Night of the Following Day some gravitas

Like many a Euro thriller we’re not told too much about exactly what is going on – we never find out the actual name of Pamela Franklin’s criminally underwritten character, for instance, or hear just how much money the gang are actually asking for – but there’s enough quirkiness on show here to keep you interested.

Some of the dialogue betrays its 1960s origin; at one point Brando utters the line, “Listen man, if you want to get freaky, don’t do it with her", but there’s enough intrigue in the simple set up to make this an above average crime adventure all the same.

Based on Lionel White’s novel The Snatchers - which Stanley Kubrick was intent on adapting before changing his focus to The Killing in 1956 - it’s got a moody and almost surrealistic finale on a deserted beach and a neat twist in the tale to boot.

It’s not Brando’s finest hour but it’s still worth revisiting all the same.