27 August 2015

MIDNIGHT LACE (1960)

MIDNIGHT LACE

German Title:
Mitternachtsspitzen

USA, 1960
Director: David Miller

7/10








"Midnight Lace" is a movie that feels as if it was supposed to be made in the 40s, because it's very reminiscent of classic mystery-thrillers like "Gaslight" or "Sorry, Wrong Number", but it was actually made during the hey-days of Alfred Hitchcock, so many people shrug/shrugged it off as a simple Hitchcock-epigone, which might explain why it's quite forgotten nowadays. The fact that actors from previous Hitchcock films appear here, obviously doesn't help (Doris Day, "The Man Who Knew Too Much" / John Williams, "Dial M for Murder"
& "To Catch a Thief").

Nevertheless, it's a very solid, well-made and pretty suspenseful chiller that still delivers the goods, at least if you like these kind of movies. Based on the stage play "Matilda Shouted Fire" by Janet Green, "Midnight Lace" follows newlywed American Heiress Kit Preston who just moved to London with her husband. Everything seems peaches and cream, but then suddenly a mysterious man with a high-pitched voice starts to terrorize her with eerie phone calls and turns her life into a nightmare, not just because the anonymous caller frightens her to death, but also because no-one seems to believe her being terrorized,
especially not Scotland Yard...


Watching it now in this day and age, it comes off as slightly dated and old-fashioned, and although it's splendily directed by then-prolific David Miller ("Lonely Are the Brave") and also well-written by Ivan Goff ("Charlie's Angels") and Ben Roberts ("Man of a Thousand Faces"), it lacks the oomph and that certain something of other suspense thrillers of that time. I also thought that the oh-so-shocking twist ending is not just highly predictable, but also extremely absurd and totally doesn't make much sense.

That said, there's still enough to enjoy, enough good stuff that makes you end up liking this movie, most notably the fabulous cast, led by the wonderful Doris Day in her last dramatic role. She gives an overwhelmingly impressive and extremely intense performance that is just wow! Apparently, during the shoot, she had flashbacks of the time when her first husband was physically abusive to her, so in the one scene on the stairs where she's uber-hysterical, she's not acting: she WAS hysterical and eventually collapsed in a real faint which forced the producers to shut down production for a few days. Makes fully sense that she didn't shoot any more thrillers for the rest of her acting career.


Rex Harrison is excellent as her super-sympathetic gentleman husband, as is Roddy McDowall as obnoxious sponger, John Gavin as charming but odd contractor, the lovely Natasha Parry as her sweet neighbor, the fun-as-always Myrna Loy and the terrific John Williams as skeptical Inspector. The entire movie was marvellously photographed by Russell Metty (Oscar for "Spartacus"), the music is mostly spectacular (5-time Oscar nominee Frank Skinner, "The House of the Seven Gables"), and it's fully understandbale why "Midnight Lace" got an Oscar nomination for Best Costume Design. Hell, Doris Day wears 17(!) different costumes throughout the movie, and all of them look fantastic!

All in all, not a perfect movie, but definitely good enough to entertain you for about 100 minutes.


Oh btw, I love the trailers which offers some sensational taglines
and excellent words of advice :)



Oh btw, "Midnight Lace" has been remade for TV in 1981. Unfortunately, it's absolutely impossible to find a copy of it. Can one of you, my dear readers,
help me finding it?


(Image stolen from "2 Warps to Neptune"!)



2 comments:

  1. Other than YouTube - no idea on the 1981 version. I do know thanks to a picture in Fangoria that Blackie Dammett - father of Anthony Kiedis from Red Hot Chili Peppers - is in that one. I will admit I'm surprised the original rated so highly with you. I haven't seen it - I will have to keep an eye out for it airing on TCM so I can check it out.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, I already tried every possible site, but I couldn't find it yet.

      Really? Why so surprised?

      Delete

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