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The Night Holds Terror

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The Night Holds Terror
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAndrew L. Stone
Produced byAndrew L. Stone
Written byAndrew L. Stone
StarringJack Kelly
Vince Edwards
John Cassavetes
Music byLucien Cailliet
CinematographyFred Jackman Jr.
Edited byVirginia L. Stone
Distributed byColumbia Pictures
Release date
  • July 13, 1955 (1955-07-13) (United States)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Night Holds Terror is a 1955 American crime film noir based on a true incident, written and directed by Andrew L. Stone and starring Vince Edwards, John Cassavetes and Jack Kelly.[1]


Family man Gene Courtier picks up hitchhiker Victor Gosset, a wanted criminal who was a dangle for a gang of three robbers headed by Robert Batsford and new addition Luther Logan. When the gang discovers he only has a few dollars of cash they decide to force Courtier to sell his valuable car and turn the money over to them. The dealer can't pay such a large sum out so late in the day, so they leave with Courtier and head to the family home in a nearby suburban development. The plan is to overnight there, accompany Courtier in the morning so he can collect his money, and leave.

The night becomes a terror of anxiety and bickering for both Courtiers, and upheaval and fear for their two young children.

In the morning Courtier's family is left behind, unhurt, and the plan to get the car proceeds succeeds. Before Courtier can be murdered on a desert turnoff, one of the hoodlums, Logan, suggests they instead hold him for ransom. He has discovered Courtier's father owns a chain of stores in the Los Angeles area, and Batsford decides to demand $200,000. The senior Courtier is given overnight to round such a large sum then up.

Meanwhile, Courtier's wife calls the police, who begin to trace any calls they can between the gang and any principals. The hoodlums retire with Courtier to their expensive hillside hideout, and behind the scenes the police begin to close in. There is friction within the gang, and a combined escape attempt of Logan and Courtier ends up with Logan shot dead by Batsford and Courtier recaptured.

Ultimately Mrs. Courtier stalls long enough for a successful trace. The police are ready, and scores of squad cars close in on the target area. There is a shootout near a phonebooth in a deserted industrial area, Bastford and Gossett are wounded, and Courtier is safely reunited with his wife.


The Actual Crime

The date was 13 February 1953. Eugene M. Courtier was an Edwards Air Force Base technician, and the kidnapping took place on a Lancaster, CA highway; the used car sale also took place in Lancaster. The criminals were Leonard Daniel Mahan, James Bartley Carrigan, and Don Eugene Hall. All survive the ordeal, and are tried and sentenced.[2]

A detailed description of the crime – which lacks mention of most of the "dramatics" of the hostage situation overnight at the Courtier home portrayed in the movie and instead describes making and eating breakfast together, coffee serving, playing and dancing to music (without any stated coercion) – is contained in a related court document. [3] There is no description of any gunfighting or violence in the kidnapper's apprehension.

An appeal by Mahan for a mistrial over the failure of the presiding judge to instruct the jury to disregard any description of an incident in which Courtier and his father physically attacked Mahan in the courtroom (in the absence of the jury) was denied.[3]


The New York Times stated that the director "must be accorded a bright green light for what he has accomplished in this tight, economical and steadily suspenseful little picture" even though it "is far from memorable".[4]

TV Guide called it "A well-constructed, powerful film."[5]

See also


  1. ^ The Night Holds Terror at IMDb.
  2. ^ "Judge Denies Unseen Fight Mistrial Cause." Los Angeles Mirror News, 11 June 1953.
  3. ^ a b
  4. ^ H. H. T. (September 15, 1955). "Movie Review : The Night Holds Terror (1955)". New York Times. Retrieved October 4, 2011.
  5. ^ "The Night Holds Terror: Review". TV Guide. Retrieved 2021-03-14.
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