Sunday, August 04, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Midnight Lace (1960) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

Doris Day stars in the thriller MIDNIGHT LACE (1960), recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

Regular readers know how much I adore the late singer-actress, but this suspense film has lingered on my "to watch" list for many years. I think perhaps I was a tad nervous about how scary it would be, and I had also read that Doris channeled unhappy marital memories as inspiration for her emotional performance, which made me feel sad for her.

That said, I was glad to finally catch up with this stylish Universal Pictures film thanks to Kino Lorber. It has a great cast, including Myrna Loy and John Williams, who plays a Scotland Yard inspector just as he did in DIAL M FOR MURDER (1954). I quite enjoyed MIDNIGHT LACE.

Doris plays Kit Preston, an American who has recently wed British financier Tony Preston (Rex Harrison). One foggy day as Kit leaves the American embassy in London and walks home in the fog, she hears a strange voice threatening her. She's terrified, but Tony convinces her it was a prankster.

Then the threatening phone calls start, and Kit and Tony pay a visit to Inspector Byrnes (Williams) at Scotland Yard, who has no definitive ideas but lends a sympathetic ear.

As time goes on, Kit's visiting Aunt Bea (Myrna Loy) and Tony are less and less certain of Kit's sanity. Kit, meanwhile, suspects every man she meets, except perhaps for the charming young contractor named Brian (John Gavin) who rescues her from a falling beam and later comes to help when a strange man visits her flat.

Is Kit losing her mind, or is she really in danger?

I guessed who the culprit was early on, but not the motivation(s), which came as a surprise. It's a pretty well-constructed plot, if more than a bit unbelievable at times; for instance, how did anyone know in advance that Kit would be walking through a foggy park and have recordings ready to threaten her?

This GASLIGHT-type tale of a perfectly sane woman starting to go crazy when no one believes what she's experiencing is very well done. Day is never less than excellent, Harrison is debonair, and Myrna Loy is...Myrna Loy. In other words, Loy is perfect. When she enters the film it's as though there's a fresh breeze, and the viewer immediately feels less concerned for Kit. Even when she comes to doubt Kit, Bea is so sharp that one feels she'll figure out what's going on eventually.

And John Williams as a police detective is one of those things that's movie perfection. He's always smart and ahead of the game figuring things out. The way he's tipped off to the culprit is quite clever.

There are many more great faces in the cast, including Herbert Marshall, Richard Ney (MRS. MINIVER), Hayden Rorke, Hermione Baddeley, Doris Lloyd, Natasha Parry, and Roddy McDowall.

The movie is, in the end, really rather sad, but there's also hope for the future in the final moments. The support Kit receives from those who truly love her reassures the viewer that all will be well for her.

MIDNIGHT LACE was directed by David Miller, who interestingly enough directed one of the greatest previous "wives in peril" films, SUDDEN FEAR (1952), which I just saw for the first time earlier this year.

The movie was attractively filmed in Eastman Color by Russell Metty. It runs 103 minutes.

The very good-looking Blu-ray includes a choice of two aspect ratios, 2.0 or 1.78. I did a bit of Googling trying to figure out which one to watch and chose the 2.0 based on comments at DVD Beaver. The picture and soundtrack are both very good.

The disc also includes a commentary track by Kat Ellinger, the trailer, and a trailer gallery for five additional films available from Kino Lorber.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

Midnight Lace has a lot of good components, but perhaps the biggest thing it has going for it in my eyes is my invested nostalgia. I first saw this as a kid and considered myself quite the grown-up. It started me wanting to peek in character's closets for fashion tips.

7:19 AM  
Blogger Margot Shelby said...

It's a perpetual favorite of mine. As you say, we can figure out the main culprit pretty fast, but not really second one.

I always considered Midnight Lace a very old-fashioned movie (which is not a bad thing). By old-fashioned I mean it must have come off as old-fashioned when it came out. Times were already changing and this film is somehow a throwback to old school mysteries.

7:54 AM  
Blogger Jerry Entract said...

An enjoyable chiller and Doris Day shows what a fine actress she had become. She always lit up the screen.

2:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I love that you have fun memories of viewing this one as a child, Caftan Woman. I've heard more than one person say that in the last day. The clothes are indeed elegant!!

Margot, I agree, beyond the main culprit the additional details all came as a pretty good surprise. I was like "Wow, really?" Nice, sold old-fashioned film. :)

Jerry, you're so right. There were a couple spots where Day was especially charming (even more than usual!), and I thought "How could anyone want to kill her?!"

Best wishes,

11:47 PM  
Blogger Vienna said...

It is lovely to see Myrna LOY In Midnight Lace. You describe her beautifully.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thank you, Vienna! She's so wonderful. :)

Best wishes,

11:24 AM  

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