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Nightmare in Chicago (1964)

In Chicago, the police are man-hunting a serial killer of blonde women and end-up car-chasing him through the complex maze of state highways.


Robert Altman


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Credited cast:
Andrew Duggan
Charles McGraw ... Harry Brockman
Michael Murphy
Carroll O'Connor
Robert Ridgely ... Dan McVeay
Ted Knight ... Carl Lombardo
Philip Abbott ... Myron Ellis
Mary Frann Mary Frann ... Annette
Ron Masak
Barbara Turner ... Bernadette
Charlene Lee Charlene Lee ... Wynnette
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Douglas A. Alleman Douglas A. Alleman ... Ralph
John A. Alonzo ... Officer Miller
Catherine Eggers Catherine Eggers ... Mother with children
Bruce Gray Bruce Gray


A complicated dash of the police, headed by Ted Knight, in a really good performance. Knight is chasing down a killer of blondes and the chase runs through the mystifying puzzle of the toll roads in the Chicago area. The roads are a web of connections and toll oasis stops. But you can't enter and exit many places and in some places you can't exit and get back on. This makes for a search for the criminal that can't escape the toll road because he can't change his directions and exits are far from each other. Robert Altman brilliantly had been fascinated by the toll road system and created a taught drama that includes a big crash and a nuclear bomb being transported. Very intense and outstanding Chicago area scenery. Written by dennis dorner

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama







Release Date:

2 April 1964 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Once Upon a Savage Night See more »

Filming Locations:

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Roncom Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Pathé)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This television movie was originally broadcast as an episode of Kraft Suspense Theatre (1963), one of the three episodes that Robert Altman directed. See more »

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User Reviews

A Must-See. Really!!
13 June 2005 | by Sturgeon54See all my reviews

I cannot believe this movie has fallen into complete obscurity - never available on VHS or DVD here or abroad - the only place I could find it was as a $15 bootleg on ebay (it was worth every penny). The movie is really an accomplished piece of work. Director Altman shot most of the movie at night on location in the dark Chicago alleyways, highways, and desolate Illinois highway overpass "oases." The daytime scenes were shot in cheap industrial sepia tones that give even those scenes a creepy home-movie feeling (similar to "Last House on the Left"). As a resident of Chicago, I believe the movie caught the feel of the area terrifically.

This appears to be one of the first serial killer films which portray events from the point-of-view of the murderer. Though I can be a jaded viewer of films like this, the entire movie held me hypnotized by its eeriness, and I really couldn't believe I was watching a movie made in 1964 - it seemed way ahead of its time, in both its subject matter and technique. It has the aura of a strange experimental film (many of Altman's peak '70s films were virtually experimental films with big budgets and studio backing), yet the experiment is a complete success.

The only real drawback to the movie is a parallel plot thread following a government nuclear missile convoy on the tri-state highway that coincides with the female murder victims. This storyline probably ratcheted up the Cold War-era tension and paranoia in viewers when the movie was released in 1964, but it seems a bit dated now. Beyond that, the movie seems as fresh today as it probably was in '64.

A historical footnote: the composer is billed as "Johnny Williams", who is actually none-other than the prolific film composer John Williams, composer of "Star Wars" and countless Spielberg films. This was one of his first composing gigs, and his music even then had what would become his trademark orchestral feel.

With the critical acclaim Altman has received in the 40 years since this movie was released (he must have been a relative unknown back then), it really baffles the mind that this minor masterpiece has hardly been seen since. I felt true excitement after watching this for the first time, and felt compelled to write a review here - the film is a lost treasure from one of the greatest American filmmakers of the past half century, and it is just begging for a proper DVD release with a commentary by Altman on his experiences putting it together.

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