Monday, May 4, 2009

Midnight (1939)

I have been absent from this blog for a while, sorry about that. I went to Ireland and had a grand time, then I quickly came down with walking pneumonia. The illness is what did it - I had so much fun watching movies without having to turn in the homework assignment of a blog that I have been a movie watching fiend, but not a blogging fiend. I decided it was time to come back and turn in another assignment.

Eve Peabody (Claudette Colbert) arrives in Paris with no luggage and no money. She convinces Tibor Czerny (Don Ameche), a taxi driver, to drive her around town while she looks for a job in a nightclub. Coming up ended handed, she flees his kindness and lands a job pretending to be a baroness. Her assignment is to woo and marry the lover of Georges Flammarion's (John Barrymore) wife (Mary Astor) so she will stay with her husband.

Don Ameche and Claudette Colbert get cozy while John Barrymroe looks on

This was a delightful screwball romantic comedy. The script was witty and fun (co-written in part by Billy Wilder, so it should be) and the performances were great. I am developing a bit of a crush on Don Ameche - holy cow, what a cutie! And John Barrymore was very funny without being too hammy or over-the-top in this one.

An example of the excellent script is the exchange between Ameche and Colbert's characters as she tries to explain her past "business" ventures:

Eve Peabody: I landed a lord, almost.
Tibor Czerny: Almost?
Eve Peabody: Well, the family came between us. His mother came to my hotel and offered me a bribe.
Tibor Czerny: You threw her out, I hope!
Eve Peabody: How could I, with my hands full of money?

My only issue, and I swear it isn't her fault, is with Claudette Colbert. I don't know what it is, but I just can't warm up to her. Part of it, I think, is her voice and the way she carries herself. I always feel like she is an 60 year-old woman in a 30 year old body. I am sure this isn't fair, but I always think she carries herself that way. I don't see a spark or much personality emanating from her like I do other actresses of the same period. I know she is beloved so I am sure you guys will have a different opinion and I welcome it. I would love to get over the Claudette Colbert hump.

As a warning, I read that they are in the process of remaking this one starring Reese Witherspoon. So those of you who are anti-remakes (I am in that camp most of the time too) start preparing your groans for the upcoming trailers.

But as far as this one, even with my Claudette issue, this was a delightful film. It was recently released on DVD and is available from Netflix so check it out.