Screwball Noir: Into the Night (1985)

I must have first seen Into the Night over twenty years ago, and no doubt it was a late-night television viewing. I’ve always been a night owl and love spending my evenings in front of the tv watching old films while sinking a few beers. My nocturnal habits and fascination for American city life would make films like Judgment Night, The Warriors and Into the Night essential viewing.Set mainly over the course of a couple of days, book-ended by brutal killings at LAX, Into the Night is a quirky thriller starring Jeff Goldblum as insomniac aerospace engineer Ed Okin. Okin is suffering from a bout of ennui, which peaks when he catches his wife in bed with another man. Heading off to the airport in the middle of the night, he crosses paths with Diana, a jewel smuggler running from a quartet of killers who are on a mission to retrieve some diamonds.What follows is a chain of events, some funny, some disturbing, and often bizarre, involving the reluctant Ed and beautiful and charismatic Diana, like “Princess Diana,” played by Michelle Pfeiffer. International intrigue, Hollywood insiders, and jewel thievery are the main ingredients to this mix, the film is also notable for the plethora of director cameos, from the likes of David Cronenberg, Don Siegel, Lawrence Kasdan, Jonathan Demme and Roger Vadim.Director John Landis plays one of the film’s Middle Eastern hitsquad. These bumbling buffoons wreak havoc everywhere they go, killing people like it’s going out of fashion. This uneasy blend of comedy and violence fitting in with the film’s increasingly surreal tone, as our duo career to a violent climax back at LAX.My favourite scenes from Into the Night involve just Goldblum and Pfeiffer in breaks between the action. In one, the two of them just sit in a diner, eating ice cream and talking. Jeff is quite entertaining with his patented milquetoast manner. When he opens up to Diana, it’s one of the few real glimpses into his character. It is fun to watch him almost sleepwalk through the film: the night’s events aren’t really fazing him as he’s already slipping over the edge.As for Michelle, she is completely magnetic, as she provides us with a neo-noir variation of the classic screwball dames of films like Bringing up Baby and The Palm Beach Story. Her alluring mystery woman makes Into the Night essential viewing, for Pfeiffer fans and those looking for a late-night dose of the offbeat.

This post is part of the Jeff Goldblum Blogathon



Filed under Blogathon, Retrospective

21 responses to “Screwball Noir: Into the Night (1985)

  1. I have mixed feelings about Into the Night. I really like the beginning and the end of the movie, but I’m not too crazy about the middle. For one thing, it’s too long. There’s a lot that could be taken out of the middle I think. I know it’s a screwball comedy so there’s a lot of just messing around and being cute, but still…It reminds me a bit of Silver Streak in that way. Grabs you at the beginning but barely hangs onto you in the middle.

  2. Great post Paul 🙂 I love reading a review of one of my favorite Michelle Pfeiffer films. First, I love how you connect it with your own viewing habits and the fact, that you imply that you were a night owl like Jeff Goldblum’s Ed Okin. Also, yes, the chain of events are both funny and disturbing in equal measures. Cheers also for mentioning the cameos of famous filmmakers like David Cronenberg, Don Siegel, Lawrence Kasdan, Jonathan Demme and Roger Vadim. Speaking of that last one, I love it when she tricks his character by treating him to a friendly conversation with the cops. Same things goes for your mentioning of Landis as one of the hitmen. And yeah, who saw that climax coming. I too love that scene where Goldblum and Pfeiffer are eating dessert at a late night diner and that ending is just so wonderful 🙂 Paul my friend, you really made my happy with this blog entry 🙂 Speaking of Demme, his cameo is interesting here because he would work with Pfeiffer three years later in 1988 with the gangster comedy Married to the Mob. Of course you knew that already though. Anyway, keep up the great work as always and please do not delete this blog entry cause I love it 🙂

    • Knowing how much you love Into the Night I’m pleased that you enjoyed this post. I really should thank you, because it was your review a couple of years ago that reawakened my interest in Into the Night and prompted me to watch it again. As for this post, I won’t be deleting it. I’m trying to get out of that habit. So far, with a little help, I’ve managed to post four times this week, which must be a record. Thanks for your support.

  3. Thanks for bringing your girl to the Blogathon – been ages since I’ve seen this and its definitely one I’d like to revisit now thanks to your review. Hope all going good with you and thanks for bringing you and this post to the blogathon, from Gill at Realweegiemidget Reviews

  4. Pingback: The 2nd Day of the Jeff Goldblum Blogathon has Landed – Realweegiemidget Reviews Films TV Books and more

  5. Terrific review…even though the film has problems with pacing and tone, the cast is so much fun to watch – you wish they had been helped more by the material!

    • Welcome John. For all its problems Into the Night has an aesthetic I just love: dangerous, strange, romantic. Pure Goldblum and Pfeiffer. I wish I could’ve seen it on the big screen.

  6. Michael

    Speaking of Landis as one of the hitmen, I love that moment when he hits himself in the face with the door and then in anger shoots the doorknob. It is so random and over in an instant but it makes me chuckle every time.

  7. Love the movie! I tend to love films that take place at night (e.g. After Hours, Risky Business, The Warriors, Adventures in Babysitting, etc.). This is such a delightfully offbeat movie. Nice review! 🙂

  8. Michael

    A beautiful tribute to one of my pfavorite pfilms. You really nailed what makes it so special. Few movies are as comforting to me as Into the Night.

  9. Dear Paul,

    It’ nice to see you blogging again. This is a great article! This sounds like an interesting film. I always enjoy reading your unique perspectives on film.

    I just nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award: In the article, I invited you and the other nominees to join our blogathon, The Phantom of the Opera Blogathon: I hope you will be able to join! Rebekah thinks that you would do very well to image a 1980s or 1990s film version of the iconic story with one of your favorite blonde beauties as Christine. We would love to see what you could imagine along these lines!

    Yours Hopefully,

    Tiffany Brannan

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