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Midnight (February 11, 2010)

Midnight was based on a story by Edwin Justus Mayer and Frank Schultz. The screenplay was written by Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, who also wrote the screenplay for the last film we saw, Ninotchka. It was directed by Mitchell Leisen. It was filmed from November 1938 to January 1939 and was released in March, 1939. The other director in this series, Ernst Lubitsch, said, “I’ve been to Paris, France and to Paris, Paramount. Paris, Paramount is better.” This movie, which was made by Paramount, perfectly illustrates that remark. But I nevertheless love the moment where Claudette Colbert gets out of a train in Paris and remarks, “So this is as they say, Paris. Well, from here it looks an awful lot like a rainy night in Kokomo, Indiana.”

The movie has been described as Leisen’s masterpiece by more than one writer. The critic David Thomson wrote about this picture, “Yes, it’s a great script, but it’s a great script rendered with terrific feeling and panache. . .it looks funny and smart at the same time – a Leisen keynote. . .Claudette Colbert was never better, and if you feel what a steel blade she was behind the smile, what’s wrong with that? John Barrymore is inspired, naughty, and irrepressible – you realize that he was a great comic actor. Mary Astor was so reliable that people take her for granted, whereas she was beautiful, intelligent, and sexy. . .As for (Don) Ameche and (Francis) Lederer, Monty Woolley and Rex O’Malley, these are the supports who make so many fine movies work. “ Anyway, I hope you enjoy watching Midnight tonight.