- Midnight review by Steve
Claudette Colbert is the greatest female comedy actor in pictures for my money and Midnight is very much a vehicle for her allure, her vigour, and flair for always suggesting a little more than she says. Colbert plays an American showgirl in Paris who (for complicated reasons) is pretending to be the wife of a Hungarian aristocrat. The title suggests the Cinderella story, and that this charade will have to end. So the risk of Baroness Czerny being uncovered by a high society superbitch played by Mary Astor gives the film suspense.
Of course, the scenario of an ordinary American woman matching wit with European aristocracy is a vicarious fantasy for the audience. Astor's husband, John Barrymore keeps the fairytale in motion by mysteriously providing the means for this deception. As the film moves on, all the characters get caught up in the thread of fancy spun by the Baroness' wild imagination.
There's a wonderful screwball start to the film, when Colbert arrives in Paris in the rain, wearing a fabulous gold evening dress but with no luggage or money. She is picked up by a taxi driver of limited means played by Don Ameche. He represents a proletariat strand to the film. The taxi drivers work together as a collective. The rich cut each other down for fun and status. Colbert tries to deny her feelings for Ameche, because she wants to marry into money...
The film is a glorious reverie of imaginative farce and sparkling wit and innuendo. There is superb script from Wilder/Brackett and director Leisen is a reliable Lubitsch stand in. Everything is elevated by this cast. Best of all is Colbert. She begins the film as a mercenary but inevitably she must settle for something other than wealth and title. The charade must end. She has to choose love, but the film is very clear that for the poor, love is usually not enough.
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