Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Midnight, 1939

After a gloriously sunny weekend, it's raining again, so what better to do than stay in and watch a movie. Today, it's Midnight, a  movie that begins with rain - a rainy night in Paris, when gold-digging showgirl Eve Peabody(Claudette Colbert) arrives from Monte Carlo with only twenty-five cents, a packet of matches and a stunning gold lame dress.  Her handsome saviour is taxi driver,Tibor Czerney (Don Ameche), who drives her around for free while she hunts for a job and then buys her dinner. 

Don Ameche and Claudette Colbert share dinner
When he tries to take her home, she worries about her feelings towards him and skips, crashing a musical party for 'luscious, big heated millionaires'- still dressed as she is in her glamorous gown.  Her quiet entrance is ruined when she accidentally sits on a pomeranian, attracting the attention of wealthy Georges Flammarion (John Barrymore).

Georges helps Eve give the impression she is a Hungarian baroness (called Czerney), as he has an ulterior motive. He sees that his wife's lover Jacques Picot (Francis Lederer) is interested in Eve, and decides to use her to lure him away from his wife Helene (Mary Astor).

Mary Astor as Helene
Eve somehow snares a room at the Ritz, and meanwhile, Tibor has set up a dragnet with his fellow cabbies to search the streets of Paris for his lady love. After sending her a suitcase full of stunning clothes, Georges then does a deal with Eve to get his wife back, and invites the "Baroness" to a weekend party at their country estate in Versailles, much to his wife's disgust. She then of course has to do a little more shopping for the weekend, and there is a brilliant scene in a Pparisian Hat shop, in which Eve quips to Helene, "That hat does something for you...It gives you a chin". The shop owner, Simone, played by John Barrymore's fourth and last wife Elaine Barrie, is also brilliant.

That hat does something for you...
One of Tibor's cabbies rams into Eve's limousine on it's way to George's chateau, and finds that she is staying at the Ritz. Lovelorn Tibor discovers that she is at George's plush chateau and follows in pursuit. He arrives during a party, and plays his role as the baroness's Hungarian husband brilliantly, just in time to save Eve being exposed by Helene. They are then, of course, given a joint room and Tibor proclaims his love.  Having seen her parents poor, Eve doesn't want that for herself, and rejects Tibor's advances. For all the twists and turns of the plot, click here.

This 1939 romantic comedy has some elements of screwball comedy, as was popular at the time, but it still stands up well today. Directed by Mitchell Leisen, who began his Hollywood career as an art director and costume designer, Midnight has a lush, extravagant feel with luxurious sets and exquisite suits,gowns and hats. The screen-writing team of Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder toss dialogue about and Eve sparkles with biting wit - its hard to find a favourite line. There are also references to 'Cinderella', when Eve calls Tibor her fairy godmother and his taxi cab the pumpkin, but really Georges' character is more that of the fairy god mother.

Francis Lederer and Colbert
The role of Eve was originally meant for Barbara Stanwyck, but Colbert uses her natural fun and sophistication to great advantage in this film. Don Ameche, on a rare loan out from 20th Century-Fox, is gorgeous in this role, and he and Colbert make a fine duo. Barrymore's performance is clever and funny - his telephone conversation with Colbert is hilarious, and Astor is brilliantly catty as the perfect socialite wife.  

The cast of Midnight

Not as well known as other Colbert comedies (like It Happened One Night, The Palm Beach Story or The Egg and I), Midnight is an excellent film, and worth watching a few times just for the clothes. I found my copy at the thrift shop, but you can find a copy here. Watch this scene set a Georges Versailles country house first.

Enjoy, Deb xx


  1. Hello!

    I just wanted to confirm the movie and post date you've chosen for the Mary Astor Blogathon (May 3-10).

    We have you listed for RED DUST or I AM A THIEF. Have you decided which fab movie you'll be going with?

    Which day would you prefer to post your entry?

    We want to update the list this week, so if you could get back to me by Wednesday, April 17, that would be terrific!

    Thanks for participating. We're really looking forward to your entry. :)

    R.A. Kerr
    Dorian Tenore-Bartilucci

    1. Hi there, so sorry you're reply got lost in the bloggosphere for a while. I have manged to get a copy of Red Dust, so that would be fine if I am not to late. Would Wed 8 May be ok (or is that Tuesday for you)?

  2. Midnight is getting a lot of love this weekend. : )
    I really enjoyed your review and the added info on the film I didn't know was a treat. Such a great cast and memorable performances. (Was great seeing JB and Astor reunited again for this fun little romp.
    Have a great weekend!


Your comments are very important to me and I read each and every one of them! Please leave your blog address so I can visit.