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The Night Fighters

Year: 1960
Studio: United Artists
Director: Tay Garnett
Cast (in credits order):
Robert Mitchum ... Dermot O'Neill
Anne Heywood ... Neeve Donnelly
Dan O'Herlihy ... Don McGinnis
Cyril Cusack ... Jimmy Hannafin
Richard Harris ... Sean Reilly
Marianne Benet ... Bella O'Neill
Niall MacGinnis .. Ned O'Neill

Plot synopsis: During World War II in Ireland, Dermot O'Neill joins the Irish Republican Army, mostly out of boredom. The IRA, who are working with the Germans against the British, send Dermot and his best friend, Sean Reilly, on an ill-fated raid. Afterward, Dermot tries to quit but is branded a traitor.

Verdict: Mitchum was very disillusioned with the final product, and blamed it on the meddling of producer Raymond Stross, who had also produced the lackluster The Angry Hills. The actor offered this colorful perspective on the film, "There is still an elemental force in the story. But it's like looking for a diamond that's been covered in sewage. You know it's there, but man does it smell." Actually, the film isn't as bad as that. Mitchum does a marvelous Irish accent and he and a very young Richard Harris (of Camelot, Gladiator, and Harry Potter fame) make believable friends.

Behind the Scenes:

  • While at a Dublin bar with Harris, an incident occurred that got more press than the movie itself. An Irish fan approached Mitchum and, mistaking him for Kirk Douglas, asked for his autograph. Mitchum wrote "F--- you" and signed it "Kirk Douglas." The irate fan returned, and according to Harris, "He hit Mitchum full in the face when he wasn't looking. Mitch could have killed him, but he just shrugged it off like he does in the film fights. He was wonderful." When the local returned with a few friends, Harris and some other actors came to Mitchum's aid, resulting in what the press termed a "donnybrook."

  • In another incident, Mitchum claimed to have hung offending producer Stross upside-down from a lamppost, saying "That's what I do with producers." Mitchum famously peed in the convertible of a producer on The Night of the Hunter. (See also the Bad Boy page).

  • The film was also known as A Terrible Beauty, named after the well-known poem about the 1919 Irish revolution by William Butler Yeats.