Turner Classic Movies
A Kiss In The Dark
Written by Joan Mallery   

kiss_in_the_dark-lobby_card_200.jpgA Kiss In The Dark (1949) is about uptight, temperamental, and overworked concert pianist Eric Phillips (David Niven) who after missing one note during a piano concert, slams the piano lid and states, "Its teeth are grinning at me."  He decides to cancel the rest of his performances and get some much-needed rest. The comedy has an all-star cast including Jane Wyman and Broderick Crawford.

After his meltdown - and unknown to Eric - his business manager buys Eric the Cleopatra Arms apartment building as a business investment and Eric becomes a reluctant landlord.  A surprise visit by the building manager, Willoughby (Victor Moore) adds to Eric's frustrations. Willoughby describes himself as the "Permanent Alternate Vice-President of the Morningside Heights Taxidermy Association" and waxes poetic about the building right before a building inspector delivers an arrest warrant to Eric for neglected repairs.

Eric is forced to accompany the Inspector to the apartment to survey the damages. Willoughby has creatively repaired a falling ceiling, but when Eric gives it a tap-tap-tap, it falls down on their heads. Eric fires Willoughby, blaming him for the condition of the building. However, one of the tenants, spunky Polly (Wyman), a photographer's model, takes it upon herself to intervene and Willoughby is rehired.


Niven, Wyman

Eric decides to evict all the tenants and move in so he can have a chance to relax with no distractions and hopefully regain his self-confidence at the piano. Willoughby and Polly, determined to undermine the plan, set out to make sure Eric meets more of the tenants. Polly convinces Eric to take some of the little boys who live there on a hike, where she introduces him to sardines and peanut butter sandwiches, and where he ends quite literally "up a tree." His arrogance and demanding ways are softened as he undergoes a change of attitude toward the tenants, and his growing interest in Polly leads to a change of heart. 

Niven, Crawford
Toss in Botts (Crawford), a grouchy tenant who works nights and demands quiet during the day, and you have all the ingredients needed for this fast-paced comedy. Polly and Eric have to find some creative ways to keep Botts awake during the day so he will decide to move out. The scenes showing his facial expressions and reactions to their attempts are hilarious.

Complications and misunderstandings develop when Polly's insurance salesman fiancé, Bruce Arnold (Morris) sets out to stifle the obvious attraction between Eric and Polly. Eric decides to go back on the concert tour after Bruce convinces him that Polly is out to collect insurance on his hands.

The cast stars three Academy Award winners, Jane Wyman, David Niven and Broderick Crawford.  Wyman won Best Actress as Belinda, a deaf mute, in Johnny Belinda (1948). Niven won Best Actor for his role as Major Pollock in Separate Tables (1958). Crawford won Best Actor as Willie Stark in All the Kings Men (1949).  Wayne Morris, best known for his role as a prizefighter in Kid Galahad (1937) and Victor Moore, The Seven Year Itch (1955) join the cast of this romantic comedy. Maria Ouspenskaya, the actress who made the werewolf movies so much scarier, made her final screen appearance in this film as the building's resident "earth mother."

Willoughby, romantic at heart and ever vigilant to the well-being of all his charges, finds a way to set the scene for a kiss in the dark.

Kiss In The Dark is a Manufactured on Demand (MOD) from the Warner archive Collection. To order visit ( or


Director: Delmer Davis

Writers: Harry Kurnitz (screenplay), Everett and Deverly Freeman (adapted story from Cleopatra Arms)

Cast: David Niven, Jane Wyman, Broderick Crawford, Victor Moore, Wayne Morris, Maria Ouspenskaya

Run Time: 88 minutes

Rating: unrated

Classic Movie Guide Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures 

Format: B&W

DVD Release Date: 02/05/2013 - Warner Archive


Photo Credits: Warner Bros. Pictures 




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