Posted by: philosopherouge | September 8, 2007

Midnight (Leisen, 1939)


Not that I put too much weight on the IMDB ratings, the fact this film has an 8.3 is one of the main reasons I saw the film. My expectations were high, and unfortunately I can’t say the film lived up to them entirely. It was insane enough, but it doesn’t have the same joy as Hawks’ screwballs or even Sturges. Colbert stars as a broke chorus girl who ends up being paid with a millionaire to have an affair with his wife’s lover. The film has many delightful twists that are genuinly surprise. More than a few times I couldn’t help laughing out loud at the outrageousness of the situations. It really gets on it’s feet in the last half an hour, where the stakes are raised as Don Ameche becomes a more important force. Barrymore is underused again, I’m really going to have to find some of his silents because he is such a captivating presence on the screen. Overall it makes for a very enjoyable time, even though it isn’t quite remarkable.



  1. Midnight is excellent. Of course, it doesn’t live up to Sturges, Lubitsch, or Hawks’s screwballs. As a NON-Sturges/Lubitsch/Hawks, however, it’s one of my favorites (only one above it, I guess, would be My Man Godfrey). Barrymore is excellent.

  2. Barrymore could be quite good when given the right situation to play. I’m sure you’ve seen these but in Dinner at Eight he absolutely excels in his final scene alone in the hotel room when he has reached the end of his rope. He let’s out a little wimper before making his inevitable decision that is just heartbreaking, and seems so utterly realistic you question if he’s acting.

    And he’s also quite good as the “crazy” father in Bill of Divorcement with Katharine Hepburn and the incomparable Billie Burke (who’s also wonderful in Dinner at Eight).

  3. I know it’s so obvious that it wouldn’t, but The Awful Truth is awesome and not directed by one of the best. I also love Godfrey.

    I actually prefer Barrymore in Grand Hotel, but he is very good in Dinner at Eight, a film I personally am not too fond of aside from his performance and a few others.

    I haven’t seen Bill of Divorcement, but I’ll see what I can do. I’ve been trying to find a copy of Counsellor at Law (1933) to no avail. Combining the awesomeness of Wyler and Barrymore? How can it fail!

  4. By the way, I should make clear that I was not endorsing Bill of Divorcement so much as his performance. It’s quite stagy even by early sound era standards and it’s one of the few times that Katharine Hepburn comes across as labored and wooden. But John and Billie Burke are terrific!

  5. I’d see it just for Barrymore, so don’t worry about a misunderstanding.

  6. Barrymore is good in the scenes where he’s “on,” but in some scenes in Midnight you can actually see him reading off cue cards. Sad.

    You’ve seen Twentieth Century, I presume? You won’t find a better Barrymore comedy.

  7. I have, it’s one of my favourites (if not my favourite) Barrymore performance. Not as lost as he is later, he brings fanatic energy and presence to the screen. Him and Lombard have fantastic chemistry.

  8. I have to chime in here to say that I absolutely love Midnight. Maybe it’s the hard-core Wilder fan in me, but it’s possible that I enjoy it even more than some of the more famous titles mentioned here. Years after seeing it I can still remember the name “Eve Peabody” and the various stars are, to me, as delightful to watch as they ever were.

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