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Midnight

Claudette Colbert , Don Ameche , Mitchell Leisen    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 14.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Although Hollywood's golden year of 1939 is best remembered for Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz, it was also a banner year for sophisticated screen comedy, and Mitchell Leisen's Midnight is a deliciously prime example. Screenwriters Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett were in peak form when they concocted this smooth confection about Eve Peabody (Claudette Colbert), an American showgirl in Paris who is out of work, money, and luck when a handsome cabbie (Don Ameche) offers to drive her around the City of Light to search for employment as a nightclub chanteuse. Nobody's hiring, but Eve has a better plan: posing as a Hungarian countess, she smuggles her way into Parisian high society and suddenly finds herself in the lap of luxury, commissioned by a wealthy aristocrat (John Barrymore) to seduce a French playboy (Francis Lederer) away from Barrymore's not-so-loyal wife (Mary Astor). While Eve is living it up at the Ritz Hotel and enjoying trips to Versailles, Ameche's on a mission to find her and declare his true love.

Class distinction, infidelity, false identity... these were daring ingredients for a 1939 comedy, and Midnight (a casebook display of Paramount's shimmering studio style of the '30s) is as fresh today as it was when first released. The silky perfection of the Wilder-Brackett screenplay is expertly served by Leisen (a director who deserves ranking with Ernst Lubitsch and Preston Sturges), and Colbert is merely the brightest star in a flawless cast of screwball veterans. Poking fun at the elite was a Wilder-Brackett specialty, and Barrymore is particularly savvy to the material, giving a performance that's simultaneously sly, desperate, and hilariously inspired. The plot is so elegantly executed that Midnight makes most comedies of later decades look pale in comparison. Gone are the days, it seems, when sophistication, wit, and good taste were an integral part of Hollywood comedy. Midnight offers all of those qualities in abundance, making it a perfect antidote to the crudeness that dominates mainstream comedy at the turn of the millennium. --Jeff Shannon


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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Midnight April 8 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Enjoyed this old film very much.
Love the old give and take banter and asides.
The ending was a pleasant surprise!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If Only Life Was Like A Movie Aug. 10 2002
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Wit and sophisticated humor is lost from modern movies but it abounds here with double entendres and quips galore. Claudette Colbert is at her very best as is Don Ameche, Mary Astor and Joyn Barrymore. Billy Wilder was one of the writers and his touches are obvious. Nothing is more fun than to see a poor girl run circles around the rich while being supplied with the clothes, jewels, and Hispano Suiza to do it with by someone else's husband.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Oct. 14 2003
Format:VHS Tape
Why isn't this movie better known? Why isn't it on DVD? It's a perfectly pitched romantic comedy, with a dream cast, witty script, terrific timing and one hilarious line or scene after another. It's got a sheen that holds up far better than many comedies of the same period, especially "It Happened One Night," which is very dated and almost lumpy in comparison. I can watch this again and again. It soars. It's movies like this that inspired me to write comic mysteries, though I know I'm no Billy Wilder.
Lev Raphael, author of the Nick Hoffman mysteries
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Champagne comedy at its most bubbly!! April 1 2002
Format:VHS Tape
Where do I start in describing this wonderful film which has no peer as the best of the sophisticated comedies of the 30's. Quite simply it is funny, glowing with sophistication, brilliantly written with every attention to detail taken into account.
Without a doubt it is the crowning glory of Claudette Colbert's film career and "Midnight" shows her at the peak of her ability and lovliness in a role superbly suited to her wonderful talents.
There are so many memorable scenes in this film that it would be impossible to relate them to readers who haven't yet had the pleasure of viewing this gem. The scene of scenes is, I believe, the truly brilliant telephone conversation between John Barrymore (in a truly wonderful performance )and Don Ameche where he pretends to be Francy, Claudette's and Don Ameche's fictional daughter. It is an absolute riot and will have you convulsing with laughter like it does me time and time again. For that scene alone the video is worth purchasing! As complication piles upon complication the story just gets funnier.
What a joyous marriage of talent and writing this film provides. The supporting cast is a marvellous asset here with Mary Astor as Barrymore's unfaithful wife a real stand out. She was a fascinating actress who I feel never got the real credit she deserved. Here se is brittle then bitchy and then comical in a terrific performance.
The film also benefits from the fact of it being a product of the Golden era of Hollywood film making. What film company could possibly produce such a film as this now. Very few present day films "glow' as this one does and certainly there are no "stars' to compare with the likes of Colbert, Barrmore, Ameche, Astor.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An unjustly neglected comic masterpiece March 15 2003
Format:VHS Tape
MIDNIGHT is the greatest classic Hollywood comedy that almost no one has seen. Why this isn't better known is a bit of a mystery. The film is well directed, well scripted, well acted, and well produced. The film is directed by Mitchell Leisen, who has been unjustly forgotten for the misfortune of having directed a series of extremely fine films based on screenplays by two writers who would later become famous directors in their own right: Billy Wilder and Preston Sturges. But Leisen put his own distinctive touch on the films he directed, and that is nowhere truer than this superb film. Nonetheless, the screenplay is superb, by one of the greatest writers of comedies in the history of cinema, Billy Wilder. Although he had been in Hollywood for a while, this was the first screenplay in which he truly hit his stride, the first in a series of stellar scripts (including NINOTCHKA for Lubitsch, ARISE MY LOVE and HOLD BACK THE DAWN for Leisen, and BALL OF FIRE for Howard Hawks) that led to his own shot at directing. Charles Brackett worked with Wilder as usual, Wilder functioning as the story originator and gagman, and Brackett cleaning up the Germanicisms cluttering Wilder's sentences. The cast is superb, with Claudette Colbert turning in one of her greatest performances as a young woman determined to capture a rich husband, but who instead inconveniently gets involved with a Parisian cab driver. Don Ameche was never better than in this film playing that Parisian cab driver. Mary Astor, who was extremely pregnant during filming, is her usual superb self, while the rest of the cast is littered with talented veteran character actors. The most bittersweet performance is the simultaneous hysterical and tragic performance by John Barrymore as a drunken dissipated nobleman. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Prime Vintage Comedy Jan. 20 2003
Format:VHS Tape
This is one of the most sophisticated and funny comedies I've seen in my whole life, thanks to one of the wittiest screenplays ever (by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, et al), deft direction by Mitchell Leisen, expertly paced, with a top cast, the best costumes, very elegant sets, etc.
Claudette Colbert is wisecracking chorus girl Eve Peabody (later Baroness Czerny), stranded in Paris, who is befriended by taxi driver Tibor Czerny (played by Don Ameche, in one of his best roles) and ends rubbing elbows with the "smart-set", with unexpected results. For those who have watched Anatole Litvak's "Tovarich" (1937) on TCM, starring Colbert and Charles Boyer, it has a similar premise, but the other way round, because in the latter Colbert, a Russian Grand Duchess who belongs to that country's Royal Family, pretends to be a maid.
The cast is full of excellent players: John Barrymore who impersonates with great skill, Monsieur Flammarion, a role somehow reminiscent of the one he played in "Twentieth Century" opposite Carole Lombard, but in a much "understated" manner. Mary Astor, as his unfaithful wife is rightly "stiff-upper-lip", high class and disdainful. Francis Lederer is very good as her lover, Jacques Picot, who falls under the spell of Colbert's charms. Rex O'Malley is Astor's wisecracking friend, Marcel Renard.
This movie has definitely the trademark "Paramount Look" and the great settings recreate Paris very well. There are many very funny scenes, especially those at the soirée offered by pretentious socialité Hedda Hopper and the party that takes place at the Flammarion Residence in Versailles, where all the guests dance "La Conga". Unforgettable.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Claudette, Greatest Movie Comedienne Ever, At Her Very Best
This movie is pure heaven!!! Claudette Colbert, the greatest romantic comedienne in movie history gives her finest perforamnce here. Read more
Published on Dec 7 2002 by Tee
5.0 out of 5 stars What Happens To Cinderella After Midnight
Claudette Colbert is essentially Cinderella in this clever twist on the Cinderella storyline. She's a penniless, but resourceful American in Paris, who through a few twists of... Read more
Published on Jan. 19 2002 by James L.
5.0 out of 5 stars ROMANTIC COMEDY AT ITS BEST...
High stepping, leggy American chorus girl, Eve Peabody, played by the lovely Claudette Colbert at her zenith, lands in Paris of the nineteen thirties dead broke with only the gold... Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2001 by Lawyeraau
5.0 out of 5 stars A FUN FROLIC
Had this nifty little flick been released during any other year (Hollywood churned out an astonishing number of Grade "A" classic films in 1939) it surely would have won... Read more
Published on July 31 2001 by "scotsladdie"
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the BEST of the thirties-or any age
Directed by Mitchell Leisen(unjustly forgotten helmer of many wonderful "golden age" films-and former designer for DeMille),written by Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett... Read more
Published on July 26 2000 by PonyExpress
5.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood's golden age
I bought this movie to amuse my step-children during their summer vacation. Amid complaints of "Oh no! Not an old B&W movie! Read more
Published on July 10 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars Hollywood's golden age
I bought this movie to amuse my step-children during their summer vacation. Amid complaints of "Oh no! Not an old B&W movie! Read more
Published on July 10 2000
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