The Night Visitor

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The Night Visitor
The Night Visitor 1971.jpg
Directed by László Benedek
Written by Guy Elmes
Produced by Mel Ferrer
Starring Max von Sydow
Liv Ullmann
Trevor Howard
Per Oscarsson
Rupert Davies
Andrew Keir
Cinematography Henning Kristiansen
Edited by Bill Blunden
Music by Henry Mancini
Release date
  • February 10, 1971 (1971-02-10)
Running time
106 mins.

The Night Visitor (Swedish title: Papegojan) is a 1971 Swedish psychological thriller film in English, starring Max von Sydow, Liv Ullmann, Trevor Howard, Per Oscarsson, Rupert Davies and Andrew Keir, and directed by Laslo Benedek.



Salem is an insane asylum inmate after being forced to take an insanity plea when wrongly convicted of murdering his farmhand. Salem escapes confinement from the fortress-like asylum in the dead of winter. Driven insane from being institutionalized for the last two years, he reaches his family farm, now run by his younger sisters Emma and Ester and the latter's husband Dr. Anton Jenks, who accused Salem of the murder.

As revenge, Salem kills the people he believes responsible for his unfair conviction and subsequent confinement. He starts with Emma, arranging the murder to appear that Anton is the killer. A local police inspector begins to see foul play and resolves to uncover the truth of the murders and Salem's conviction.

Salem has barrister Mr. Clemens as his next target. Following a visit from the inspector, the bedridden Clemens calls Anton to his home and confronts him about certain inaccuracies during the trial. Anton leaves after giving Clemens a sedative, and Salem enters his lawyer's room and kills him in his sleep with a lethal injection.

Salem proceeds to the farmhouse where he acquires a fur coat, biding his time as Ester called the inspector. Salem reveals that Anton murdered the farmhand when he caught him and Emma attempting to burn down the farmhouse which they could not sell because of Salem. After the police leave, Ester is cornered and hacked to pieces by Salem when she attempts to flee. Anton arrives as Salem proceeds to wipe the blood on the doctor's clothes before running back to the asylum. Broken, Anton confesses his crime to the inspector as he hurries to the asylum.

Salem manages to return to his cell before being discovered. But his alibi is ruined in a completely unexpected, spectacular way. This bang also forms the final punch line of the film.



Christopher Lee was first choice to play Salem, but was not available.

The film is notable for its unusual score by renowned Hollywood film and TV composer Henry Mancini. The music was arranged for synthesizer, 12 woodwinds, organ, two pianos and two harpsichords and Mancini achieved an unsettling effect by having one of the harpsichords tuned a quarter-tone flat.


The film was released theatrically in North America in 1971 by Universal Marion Corporation (UMC). It was re-released in 1981 under the title Lunatic by 21st Century Film Corporation. [1]

The film was released on DVD by VCI Entertainment in February 2000. This version is currently out-of-print. [2]

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  1. "Company Credits for The Night Visitor". Retrieved 2012-09-24.
  2. The Night Visitor. ASIN   6305698937.