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Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Classic Film Review: Star of Midnight (1935)

Star of Midnight stars William Powell as lawyer Clay 'Dal' Dalzell. He's approached by Tim Winthrop (Leslie Fenton) whose girlfriend went missing in Chicago a year ago. Dal agrees to try and find her but when a journalist is shot in his apartment just before giving Dal a vital clue, he realises the case may be more complex than he thought. Helping him out is the woman who insists she's going to marry him - Donna Mantin (Ginger Rogers).

I knew I was going to enjoy this film because Rogers was in it but I wasn't expecting to become as absorbed in the plot as I did. It's a good whodunnit and, although I had my suspicions, I was kept guessing until the final minutes. The supporting cast is very good, including J. Farrell MacDonald as Inspector Doremus and Vivian Oakland as Jerry Classon, but far and away the best support comes from Gene Lockhart as Dal's butler Horatio Swayne. He's a delight to watch, especially in his little conspiracies with Rodgers.

Powell and Rogers work well together, sparking off each other to an extent. I was happy to root for their relationship, which isn't always the case in this era for me. Rogers gets her fair share of zinger lines but her strength, as ever, stems from her facial expressions and reactions. She can steal a scene by simply being in the background. Then again, so can Powell so they're in competition in this film.

I won't say too much about the plot but it certainly captured my interest and I enjoyed this film immensely. Recommended for any fan of 30s mysteries but particularly for fans of Ginger Rogers.

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