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Saturday, August 30, 2008

MIDNIGHT (1939)

Inspired screwball comedy (co-written by Billy Wilder & Charles Brackett) strands Claudette Colbert on the streets of Paris in a satin gown with only 25 centimes in her matching bag. But that’s enough. Don Ameche is the soft-hearted cabbie who wants to rescue her, Francis Lederer is the soigné playboy who wants to carry her off, Mary Astor is his jealous mistress and a wonderfully sly John Barrymore (in one of his best late perfs) is the wise cuckolded hubby who pulls the strings to get all the pieces back in place. Wilder (and for that matter, Preston Sturges, who put Colbert to similar use in his classic THE PALM BEACH STORY/'42) hated Mitchell Leisen’s helming, but he’s at his best here with a gently rolling pace and some wonderful set-ups from lenser Charles Lang. Check out the low angle shot with the suitcase & a nude Colbert blanketed in a hotel bed. Nice.

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