Day 26 of Noirvember: Jill Merrill in Night Editor (1946)

Today’s Noirvember post shines the spotlight on a seriously fatal femme: Jill Merrill in Night Editor (1946).

“Yes. Blood.”


Night Editor tells the story, via flashback, of a New York homicide detective, Tony Cochrane (William Gargan), who has a wife (Jeff Donnell), a son – and a high-society mistress, Jill Merrill (Janis Carter). Tony (says he) wants to end his relationship with Jill, but on the very night that he tries to give her the gate, they witness a brutal slaying of a young woman. Tony starts after the killer, but Jill stops him, warning that he would expose their affair and run the risk of losing his family. When another man is arrested and convicted for the murder, Tony has to decide whether to jeopardize his personal life or let an innocent man go to the chair.


What will Jill do next?

We meet Jill when Tony picks her up for a late-night rendezvous. She swathed in furs and diamonds – practically dripping with wealth. It’s clear, right off the bat, that something is off about Jill. When Tony makes a stop, she insists that he kiss her before exiting the car. “What do you want – blood?” he asks. And she responds, “Yes. Blood.” And after the killing, when Tony inspects the body, she really lets her freak flag fly, going full-on orgasmic over the thought of seeing the dead woman.


She’s a psychopath with a capital P. Every time we see her, she’s pulling something new from her crazy bag of tricks – whether it’s lying, using her sexuality to ensnare the men in her life, spitting out venomous insults, or getting stabby with an ice pick. You never know what this dame is up to.


“To hear you talk, you’d think I was crawling after you. I don’t need you. I can buy and sell you. I don’t know why I bother seeing you.”


Janis Carter was born Janis Elinore Dremann on October 10, 1913, in Cleveland, Ohio. She attended Western Reserve University, where she studied music and participated in a number of plays, then turned her sights toward a career in opera. After unsuccessfully auditioning for the Metropolitan Opera, she found work as a model, was seen in two Cole Porter musicals, and was spotted on the Broadway stage by 20th Century-Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck, who signed her to a contract. Changing her last name to Carter, Janis made her film debut in Cadet Girl (1941). Night Editor was her first film noir. For more on Night Editor (watch out for spoilers!), click here.

And join me in the shadows tomorrow for Day 27 of Noirvember!

~ by shadowsandsatin on November 26, 2021.

7 Responses to “Day 26 of Noirvember: Jill Merrill in Night Editor (1946)”

  1. Oh my, I’d say Jill Merrill is one of the nastiest and mentally deranged femme fatales ever.

    She’s not just garden-variety sick, she’s a complete psychopath who, after having witnessed a young girl being bludgeoned to death, is desperate to view the corpse because it turns her on. She starts an affair with the real murderer because it excites her.

    Her imperturbable glamorous 40s society girl look barely hides one of the sickest minds in Noir.

  2. Red flags all over the place when it comes to Jill. Janis deserves all our applause. Bill Gargan has a way of making you feel for him, and this is certainly no exception.

    I am frustrated by Night Editor in that there seemed to be no sense of the era in the flashbacks. It is a good thing Janis’s performance keeps our attention.

    • That’s so funny about the flashback, Paddy — I have never thought of that, but you’re right! I guess I was so distracted by Janis’s craziness that it never occurred to me.

  3. Alan Ladd had a tender smile of psycho anticipation just before he shot the crooked politician in ‘This Gun for Hire’. Jane Greer’s eyes light up with unwholesome enjoyment when two men have a fistfight in front of her in ‘Out of the Past’. Both were subtle expressions that could get past the censors. How they got Jill Merrill screaming “I want to see her!” past the censors is beyond me! That was some bold writing in 1946.

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