NIGHT WATCH (1973) Reviews and overview


night watch poster 1973

‘You’ll be seeing this nightmare every night for the rest of your life.’

Night Watch is a 1973 British suspense thriller film directed by Brian G. Hutton from a screenplay by Tony Williamson and Evan Jones.

Night Watch 1973 title

The film reunited Elizabeth Taylor with co-star Laurence Harvey from their Butterfield 8 (1960). Some of the story elements were inspired by the play of the same name by Lucille Fletcher (Sorry, Wrong Number) and 1944 film Gas Light.

The movie stars Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Harvey (Welcome to Arrow Beach), Billie Whitelaw (Twisted Nerve; Frenzy; The Omen [1976]), Robert Lang, Tony Britton, Bill Dean (Beasts). Horror icon Linda Hayden has a brief role as a young woman killed in a car accident.


London. One night, during a raging thunderstorm, Ellen Wheeler (Elizabeth Taylor), frantically tells her husband John (Laurence Harvey) that from the living room window she has seen a murder being committed in the old deserted house next door. John calls the police, but a search turns up nothing.

night watch 1

Ellen is revealed to be recovering from a mental breakdown that occurred after her unfaithful first husband, Carl, was killed a few years earlier in an auto accident with his young lover…


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“Quite cleverly, though, by closely following the visual and aural conventions of the genre (the thunderclaps whenever someone says something significant; the lightning flashes that reveal hidden information, the discordant music/noise on the soundtrack anytime Ellen becomes confused and threatened), Hutton sets us up to pull the rug out from under our expectations.” DVD Talk


“It’s a tight, well-paced thriller that deftly builds its suspense by playing with the audience’s mind as cleverly as it plays with that of Taylor’s character.” Dreams Are What Le Cinema is For…

” … a superior domestic suspense film, better than I expected it to be, and warmly recommended to those looking for a good seventies scare.” The Passing Tramp: Wandering through the mystery genre


“On the surface, the plot of Night Watch appears to be similar to many “women-in-peril” thrillers, but just when you assume you know the direction the film is taking, Night Watch explodes in a bloody finale that’s sure to leave a few viewers shocked.” Cinebeats


“… has a gratuitously bloody climax and a kick-yourself ending, but its amoebic plot is stretched almost to snapping point over 98 minutes.” David McGillivray, Time Out 


“The direction at times has the appearance of a pastiche of the worst of Hammer’s Gothic productions.” Alexander Stuart, Films and Filming


“Predictable coil-spring shocker which goes curiously flat despite a star cast and lashings of blood. Perhaps we have all been here once too often.” Leslie Halliwell, Halliwell’s Film Guide

“Night Watch is a genuinely atmospheric and surprising film, one that catches you off guard and one in which the tension does not relent until the final credit has rolled across the screen. Ellen’s nightmares are especially well-realized and the film’s final moments are both frightening and surprisingly graphic. This is a film that sticks with you.” Lisa Marie Bowman, Through the Shattered Lens

“… the ancient plot and Taylor’s side of ham ruin the best efforts of all concerned.” Andy Boot, Fragments of Fear


“A flat mystery thriller that fails to create any feeling of suspense.” John Elliot, Elliot’s Guide to Films on Video

Cast and characters:

  • Elizabeth Taylor – Ellen Wheeler
  • Laurence Harvey – John Wheeler – Welcome to Arrow Beach
  • Billie Whitelaw – Sarah Cooke – The Omen
  • Robert Lang – Mr. Appleby
  • Tony Britton – Tony
  • Bill Dean – Walker
  • Michael Danvers-Walker – Sgt. Norris
  • Rosario Serrano – Dolores
  • Pauline Jameson – Secretary
  • Linda Hayden – Girl in car
  • Kevin Colson – Carl
  • Laon Maybanke – Florist
  • David Jackson – Wilson

Choice dialogue:

Billie Whitelaw: “What? Ruin a good love affair by getting married? No, thank you.”


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