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Laughter in the Dark (French: La Chambre obscure) is a 1969 French-British drama film directed by Tony Richardson and starring Nicol Williamson and Anna Karina.[2] It is based on the novel of the same name by Vladimir Nabokov. Nicol Williamson was brought in as a very late replacement for Richard Burton, who had already shot several scenes. The director, Tony Richardson, found Burton's lack of punctuality intolerable.[3][4]

Laughter in the Dark
Laughter in the Dark FilmPoster.jpeg
Film poster
Directed byTony Richardson
Produced byNeil Hartley
Elliott Kastner
Written byVladimir Nabokov (based on his novel)
StarringNicol Williamson
Anna Karina
CinematographyDick Bush
Edited byCharles Rees
Distributed byUnited Artists (UK)
Release date
  • September 1969 (1969-09)
Running time
104 minutes
United Kingdom
Box office$780,000[1]

For the film, the story’s setting was changed from nineteen-thirties Berlin to the swinging London of the sixties. The film drew respectable reviews, but for reasons that are unclear, it was subsequently removed from distribution. The film has only twice been shown on British television, (in 1974 and 1981 on BBC2), and has not been released on any home video format. Laszlo Papas was slated to direct a 1986 remake of the film which would have starred Mick Jagger as Axel Rex and Rebecca De Mornay as the young seductress; De Mornay was replaced by Maryam d'Abo after disagreements with the director, but ultimately the project went nowhere and the film was never made.[5]



  1. ^ Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company That Changed the Film Industry, University of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p. 246
  2. ^ Weiler, A. H. "NY Laughter in the Dark". Retrieved 30 January 2010.
  3. ^ Walker p.298-299
  4. ^ Richardson, pp. 213-5. Richardson had directed Williamson in A Midsummer Night's Dream on stage and was planning to cast him as Hamlet. A famously turbulent and unpredictable actor himself, Richardson obviously saw him as a better bet than Burton. To recruit him in a hurry, Richardson sent a search party to comb the bars and bistros of the Cote d'Azur.
  5. ^ Colapinto, John (2 January 2015). "Nabokov and the Movies". The New Yorker. Retrieved 5 January 2015.


  • Richardson, Tony (1993). Long Distance Runner - A memoir. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0-571-16852-3.

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