Norman Taylor (Peter Wyngarde) is a level-headed university academic who looks to have a bright future ahead of him. However, when he discovers his wife Tansy (Janet Blair) has been hiding magic charms around their house in the belief that it will protect him and bring him good fortune, he demands she destroy them. This proves to be a mistake as Norman's luck changes for the worse... much worse.
Based on Fritz Leiber's novel of the supernatural, Conjure Wife, this adaptation was scripted by Charles Beaumont, Richard Matheson and George Baxt (themselves no stranger to spooky stories). Drawing on the suspicion that men have about the myste-e-e-erious powers that women hold over them, this goes further than simple feminine intuition to create a believable witchcraft of spells, curses and talismans.
Wyngarde does well enough in the familiar role of the disbeliever whose world view is revealed to be sorely lacking - you notice how horror movies are never quite as satisfying when the apparently paranormal threat turns out to be non-supernatural in origin? I call this the Scooby Doo effect. Anyway, the action builds nicely from Tansy finding a tiny doll in her living room all the way through her forced suicide attempt, until the great climax with Wyngarde being chased around by the giant eagle of the title.
There's a sly humour to be found in the way that the educated folks' genteel life of book cases, wood panelling and bridge parties is merely the facade for rampant jealousy, petty hatred and devious manipulation. The villain is easy to spot, but nevertheless a convincing threat, either inducing rape allegations or relentlessly needling the husband and wife into dangerous situations. Night of the Eagle offers enjoyable low budget thrills; only the over-earnest leads take some of the shine off a polished production. Music by William Alwyn.