Midnight (1939)

MITCHELL LEISEN

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5

USA, 1939.  Screenplay by , , based on a story by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .

There’s a reason why they call it the silver screen:  the images here literally glisten as  arrives in Paris in the middle of the night, finely dressed but lacking a dime to her name. She befriends a cab driver () with whom she has an immediate attachment, but then gives him the slip and finds herself in the company of aristocrats to whom she presents herself as a baroness.   plays an incredibly wealthy member of the leisure set who hires her to woo a rich playboy away from his own philandering wife ().  Colbert sees it as a great opportunity to marry into a fortune, but her plans become complicated when Ameche shows up again pretending to be her “baron” husband. Lots of Depression-era politics about the moral superiority of the working class, but lots of laughs too in the dazzling screenplay co-written by Billy Wilder. Mitchell Leisen’s direction is perfectly effortless, moving seamlessly from situation to situation without breaking a bead of sweat, backed up by bubbly performances, beautiful sets and costumes and a palpable sexy chemistry between the leads. It’s one of the prime examples of thirties filmmaking, and one of Colbert’s greatest performances.

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