Tuesday, May 17, 2011

CMBA Blogathon - Movies of 1939: Midnight(1939).

Midnight (1939). Romantic/ comedy. Director: Mitchell Leisen. Written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder based on a story by Edwin Justus Mayer and Franz Schulz. Cast: Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche and John Barrymore.

Eve Peabody an American showgirl, finds herself stranded in Paris one rainy night. Eve makes a deal with cab driver Tibor Czerny, to double his fee for driving her from nightclub to nightclub looking for a job. Eve, decides to run away from him when it looks like he is becoming interested in her. She hides from him at a charity event where she meets, millionaire Georges Flammarion.

The adventure begins after Georges gives her the title of the Baroness Czerny and Eve finds herself in a room at the Ritz, every girls dream, with beautiful clothes and a chauffeured limousine. Later that morning, Georges, appears at the Ritz to offer Eve the job of taking Jacques away from Helen. She accepts the job and his weekend invitation at his home. That same day, Tibor has organized the cab drivers of Paris to find Eve and on a tip, he finds her at the Flammarion chateau. Just as Helen is about to expose Eve as an impostor, Tibor arrives as the Baron to claim his wife. Will they be able to keep up the crazy charade?

Favorite quote: Eve Peabody: (at the ball) Don't forget, every Cinderella has her midnight.

This is my second Midnight movie review. I thought the story was magical. Once again, Claudette Colbert shows that she is a wonderful comedian. Don Ameche, gives one of my favorite performances. Mary Astor, combines beauty and meanness into a wonderful performance.

Please click here to view Dawn's first Midnight(1939) movie review.

Claudette Colbert ( September 13, 1903 – July 30, 1996), was a French-born American stage and film actress. Claudette began her career on Broadway during the 1920s, moving onto talking pictures. She began a successful film career with Paramount Pictures and later, as a freelance performer. Claudette was recognized as one of the leading women of screwball comedy. She won the Academy Award for Best Actress in the film, It Happened One Night (1934), and also received Academy Award nominations for her dramatic roles in Private Worlds (1935) and Since You Went Away (1944).

Her film career began to decline in the 1950s, and she made her last film in 1961. Colbert continued to act in theater and, briefly, in television during her later years.

Don Ameche (May 31, 1908 – December 6, 1993) was an Academy Award winning actor. Ameche was a versatile and popular film actor in the 1930s and '40s, usually as the handsome, leading man. He was also popular as a radio master of ceremonies during this time. As his film popularity began to fade in the 1950s, he continued working in theater and some TV. His film career made a comeback in the 1980s as an aging millionaire in, Trading Places (1983) and in the film,Cocoon (1985).

John Barrymore (February 15, 1882 – May 29, 1942). He began his acting career as a handsome stage actor in light comedy. His success continued in movies in both the silent and sound eras. John Barrymore is mostly known for his roles in movies like, Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (1920), Grand Hotel (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933), Twentieth Century (1934), and Don Juan (1926). He was the brother of Lionel Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore and was the paternal grandfather of, Drew Barrymore.

Mary Astor (May 3, 1906 – September 25, 1987) was most remembered for her performance in the film, The Maltese Falcon (1941) with Humphrey Bogart. Astor began her long motion picture career as a teenager in the silent movies of the 1920s.

She made a successful transition to talkies, eventually winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance in the film, The Great Lie (1941). She was an MGM contract player through most of the 1940s and continued to act in movies, on television and on stage until her retirement from the screen in 1964. Astor was the author of five novels. Her autobiography became a bestseller, as did her later book, A Life on Film, which was about her career.


  1. I LOVE this film. It is hilarious and has so many great lines. I'm hoping that it holds up for many repeated viewings. I think it's really an underrated gem. But that makes it all the more delightful to stumble across!

  2. This is one of the best of the 1930s screwball comedies - the costumes are gorgeous, and so is the cinematography, and the performances sparkle - my own favorite line is when Claudette is in the hat shop and meets Mary Astor trying on hats - "that one gives you a chin," Claudette purrs (meow!) The film also has one of Barrymore's best comic performances. Thanks for your post!

  3. Dawn, I've heard so much about MIDNIGHT over the years, but I'm chagrined to say I haven't gone out of my way to catch up with it. Now that I've read your excellent review, I look forward to seeing MIDNIGHT at last! Loved your bios and photos of the cast, too, especially Mary Astor, one of our family's favorites, deft at both comedy and drama. Great clip as well. Can't wait to see it!

  4. I was sold on this movie from the moment that I heard Colbert was in it!

    I'm a little amazed that I've never heard of this film before....I should change that....

  5. Dawn, I haven't seen movie, but really enjoyed your review! That's a great cast featuring two actresses who could pretty much play any role--from femme fatale to light comedianne.

  6. Marvelous movie. Haven't seen it in years but remember it being terrific. Thank you for the review!

  7. Dawn, this might be my favorite Mitchell Leisen directed film. The ensemble of actors who interpret the excellent script is the primary reason; the art direction and costume design is the icing and roses on the cake. I think the wacky design of the hat shop captures the spirit of this witty comedy. I also think Palm Beach Story is a better movie than it might have been because Mary Astor and Claudette Colbert were “re-teamed” for their respective roles. Although, not strictly speaking a New Year’s Eve film, I like to include this one with After The Thin Man as my new year’s lineup of films.

  8. The Billy Wilder/Charles Brackett script alone raises the level of this film into the stratosphere! Terrific cast add to its flavor. For me, director Leisen was only as good as the script he was working with. His best films had great writers (Easy Living and Remember the Night had Preston Sturges, Hold Back the Dawn and Midnight had Wilder and Brackett). This is a must see film.

  9. Dawn, great thumbnail bios of the four main stars, all of them wonderful actors. Mary Astor was such a versatile actress. She could be sympathetic, bitchy and self-centered, maternal, a ditzy screwball, just about anything the role called for. Ameche, a wonderful light actor who here and in Lubitsch's "Heaven Can Wait" finally got roles that let him shine. Barrymore--what a prodigious talent sabotaged by self-destructive behavior. And Colbert, one of my very favorite actresses of the studio era, and like Astor one of the most versatile. This is my second favorite performance of hers after "The Palm Beach Story." Great photos of a great, wonderfully entertaining movie, one of my very favorite screwball comedies with a wonderfully literate script by Billy Wilder. I've shown this to friends who aren't particular fans of screwball, and they loved it.

  10. A great film, a great cast and a great review! Thanks for letting us spend time with this splendid film!

  11. Dawn, I remember your first review of Midnight, and this one is a great addition. You know, I'm not that much of a screwball comedy lover, but Midnight is an exception for me. Loved your video clip and gorgeous pictures, especially the one of Mary Astor at the very end in that fabulous gown! You put it perfectly -- Mary Astor did beautiful and mean better than anybody!

    Thank you, Dawn, for this wonderful contribution to our blogathon. I loved it!

  12. Dawn,
    WOW! You took on a film that got no publicity despite it's fabulous cast. Your well thought out review really should bring this little known film a new life and that's what these blogathons are all about.
    Kudos to you Dawn.

  13. I'm somewhat embarrassed that I've never seen this. It sounds marvelous. I'll make amends soon and I'll be on the lookout for it.

  14. Audrey, I also love this movie.. There are so many wonderful scenes.. A perfect movie to watch on a rainy afternoon.

    Grand Old Movies, For me the cinematography was very dreamy and I loved the clothes.. This one of those films that make you smile..

    DorianTB, I must admit.. I had not seen this film until last year. I loved it so much that I added it to my ever growing DVD collection. If you ever get a chance to see it please drop back by and tell me your thoughts.

    Nathanael Hood, I also was drawn to the movie because of, Colbert. I think you will love the film, Midnight, as much as I do. If you ever get a chance to see it please drop by and tell me your thoughts.

    Rick29, Thank you. You have also introduced me to many "new to me" films that I have liked more than I thought I would.. :)

    Classicfilmboy, Thank you. I agree.. it is a wonderful film. Hopefully, you will get the opportunity to see the movie again soon.

    whistlingypsy, I absolutely love the hats from the classic movies. I'm always on the look out for pictures to share. I also.. love the idea of you watching films: Midnight and After The Thin Man as your new year’s lineup of films. What a great way to start ot the new year!!

    John, Thank you for the very interesting "fun facts".

    R. D. Finch, Thank you and thank you for sharing your thoughts on such a wonderful film, Midnight. I'm also a huge fan of the film, The Palm Beach Story.

    FlickChick, Thank you and thank you for dropping by to check out my 1939 movie pick.

    ClassicBecky, Thank you and thank you for putting the blogathon together. I have read so many awesome 1939 movie reviews.

    Page, Thank you and I also want to thank you for putting together this 1939 movie blogathon. You and Becky did a wonderful job.

  15. Kevin Deany, Thank you for stopping by. Hopefully, TCM will have it on soon. If you ever get a chance to see it please drop by and tell me your thoughts.:)

  16. Fantastic movie, though I get distracted from the wonderful story by John Barrymore, who I love so much here that I constantly find myself waiting for his character to reappear! Thanks for covering it, really enjoyed!

  17. Cliff Aliperti, Thank you for stopping by. I love the film, Midnight and John Barrymore's performance, is one of the reasons why.


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