Jules Dassin’s 10:30 P.M. Summer is only 85 minutes long but seems longer. Dassin’s direction is uncertain, frequently illogical and, for the most part, plodding; Melina Mercouri’s thesping is in a similar vein. There’s reason to believe that the major fault is in the script of Dassin and novelist Marguerite Duras and, beyond that, in the novella of Duras on which the script is based.
The thread of a plot (a married couple and a female friend, traveling together in Spain, are under a mounting tension that is touched off by an incident with a fugitive in a village) may have made a moody and effective short story but as the basis of an intelligent screenplay it is less than satisfactory.
There’s some possibility of exploitation in the frankly erotic scenes of lovemaking between Romy Schneider (the reluctant guest) and Peter Finch (the husband).
An even more grievous shortcoming is the absence of any explanation as to the reason for her condition. Alcoholism is, evidently, only a part of her tragedy, as is a suggested latent homosexual feeling towards Schneider.
Gabor Pogany’s camerawork overcomes the necessary low-key lighting (most of the film takes place at night) to give a technical gloss to the proceedings.