Here's just part of the incredible cast from 1973's Nothing But the Night--Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Fulton Mackay, and, in his first film role, a young Michael Gambon. The film also has Diana Dors and Kathleen Byron which makes it a real pity that it's generally such a lifeless, rote murder mystery.
The protagonist for the first part of the film is a young doctor named Haynes (Keith Barron) who's investigating the mysterious circumstances around a patient of his, a young girl named Mary Valley (Gwyneth Strong). She is recovering from minor injuries after the school bus she was in crashed.
On the periphery are two men who will become the main protagonists in the second half, Mark (Cushing), who's in charge of the hospital, and Charles (Lee), who's a police colonel investigating the recent murders of five trustees of a lucrative fund. Although the girl's name is Valley, her mother is Anna Harb (Dors), who's kept away from Mary because of her reputation. She's apparently given to violent behaviour and was at one time a prostitute.
By this time Dors, the former sex symbol, was considered to have hit the wall but seemed happy to accept supporting roles as unattractive women. Which seems strange--she was only forty two when the movie was made--the film's female romantic lead, Georgia Brown, was only two years younger.
Brown plays a reporter investigating the murders and seems also to be Anna's unofficial agent. Eventually, Mary is taken to her large boarding school in Scotland and Brown's reporter character follows. It's here we meet Mackay and Gambon.
Gambon plays a helpful police inspector and is fine exchanging exposition with the other characters. It was exciting to imagine Gambon and Lee exchanging dialogue with a little more substance.
The movie never really gets personal. The closest anyone gets close to feeling something besides passion about following up on clues is when the reporter challenges Mark for ignoring her because she's a reporter and he gets slightly ruffled. Dors screams and pushes people because they won't let her see her kid but she spends most of her time sneaking around Scottish countryside.
Kathleen Byron appears once or twice as one of Mary's teachers but she has nothing to say or do. I think she has two close ups in the whole film. It's a movie filled with missed opportunity.