“The Night Has a Thousand Eyes” is the title cut of a 1948 film noir based on the novel by Cornell Woolrich. Jerry (Jerome) Brainin wrote the music and Buddy Bernier wrote the lyric. The movie starred Edward G. Robinson as a nightclub fortune teller whose con game becomes all too real when he begins to actually foresee the future. Co-stars Gail Russell and John Lund appeared on the cover of the sheet music.
Bernier, who also composed film soundtracks, has a few other hits to his credit, namely “Poinciana” written with Nat Simon and “Our Love,” an adaptation of a Tchaikovsky theme on which he collaborated with Larry Clinton and Bob Emmerich. Brainin was a pianist/arranger who wrote for Broadway and created title songs for films such as Teacher’s Pet.
While the lyric has overtones of romance the choice of words speaks to the mysterious nature of the occult:
Don’t whisper things you don’t mean
For words deep down inside can be seen by the night
The night has a thousand eyes
And it knows a truthful heart from one that lies
This song is not to be confused with “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” a pop song popularized by Bobby Vee and also performed by the Carpenters.
Since “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes” was written after the popularity of big bands had waned, most recordings have been by small groups, although Bing Crosby made an early recording with the John Scott Trotter Orchestra, and in 1996 both trumpeter Claudio Roditi and vocalist Nancy King recorded it with the Metropole Orchestra. Most renditions are instrumental since the soaring melody can present a challenge to vocalists.
Some late ‘50s and early ‘60s recordings are by John Coltrane, the Paul Desmond Quartet with Jim Hall, the Horace Silver Quintet, and pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi’s trio. Others who have recorded it are saxophonist Stan Getz, pianist Ahmad Jamal, drummer Shelly Manne, guitarist Herb Ellis, and vibraphonist Gary Burton. Most recently, it has appeared on CD’s by pianists McCoy Tyner and Eddie Higgins, trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, and vocalists Kate McGarry and Kitty Margolis.