This is not the first time I have sat through Star of Midnight. Last year when I was beginning to get into Ginger Rogers I recorded the film off of TCM. I only really paid attention to her scenes and not so much the entire story. After I became a fan of William Powell and realized that he was in this film I went crazy looking for it. Unfortunately the film is not available on DVD but TCM was very kind to have aired it again a few weeks back and I think I almost hit the ceiling with excitement!
William Powell is Clay “Dal” Dalzell. Dal is a lawyer as well as an amateur detective who usually solves mysteries before the cops can (sounds a little familiar, right?). He is asked by a friend of his named Tim Winthrop to find his girlfriend Alice who disappeared over a year ago. That night Dal takes his own girlfriend Donna Mantin (Ginger Rogers) to the theater to see a new show called Midnight starring Mary Smith. Tim recognizes Mary as Alice and yells her name out. When Mary hears her real name she bolts and is not seen again.
A young reporter named Tommy Tennant comes to Dal’s apartment to tell him the truth about Mary Smith but before Tommy can tell Dal anything shots ring through the apartment. Tommy falls to the floor as does Dal. Dal is fine he just got grazed on the hip but Tommy is dead.
Now Dal now in the case for the long haul. After this I found the film to be a bit confusing and it becomes drawn out in some parts.
So the film was pretty much RKO ripping off/copying off of The Thin Man. William Powell’s Dal is Nick Charles and RKO seems to have tried to make Ginger Rogers into Nora Charles in some ways. There are enough differences though between Star of Midnight and The Thin Man: Dal is smooth and sophisticated but he is not as much as a lush or silly and he is not really one step ahead of the curve. And yes, Rogers is definitely not Nora Charles. But besides these facts the film is really good and Powell and Rogers were great together. Rogers was as always excellent she played a very good sidekick. Powell and Rogers had some very good lines together, in one scene Donna gets her facts wrong and Dal replies “The woman is a hussy and a shameless fact disorderer.” Donna said something that Dal did not really like so he tells her that her mother should have spanked her more she says that her mother would never have done so because her mother loved her. Dal says that he will do it and kicks her in the butt. In the middle of the film Dal walks away from Donna as she is telling a story and leaves her with the bill. A few scenes later they are sitting in another bar and Donna takes a ten dollar bill and asks Dal if he wants to see a trick so she folds the bill and puts it in her purse. He asks “What’s the answer” and she says “Eight side cars” which is what was on the bill.
Max Steiner created the score for the film. I always have to give props to Steiner whenever I see his name in the credits of an RKO film.
Star of Midnight is a good film. I enjoyed it for the fact that it was William Powell acting with Ginger Rogers, I adore him with Myrna Loy but it was nice to see him with another actress and one I also greatly admire. I am sure if I were to see the film again I will understand the mystery a little bit but do not let the plot deter you from seeing it, it is a cute film and very well acted by William Powell and Ginger Rogers.
As I said at the beginning of this post Star of Midnight is not available on DVD but it is available to view on Youtube.