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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Cinderella of Screwball Comedy, 31 Jan 2008
This review is from: Midnight [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
"Every Cinderella has her Midnight!" quips Claudette Colbert as Eve Peabody, in this 1939 Masterpiece, part written by Billy Wilder and with Don Ameche and Colbert at their most charming.

The film has never been released on DVD before, and only on video, briefly, in America. Now here is is, but only region 1 for some strange reason.

Like The Palm Beach Story and It Happened One Night, this is screwball at it's absolute best. The one-liners simply tumble off the screen, the chemistry is sparkling, the comic timing like a swiss watch. They really don't make them like this anymore, and I've waited years for this release.

The story? Eve Peabody, a penniless socialite (and gold digger) has run out of luck, and is saved from a rainy night in Paris by a dashing but poor Hungarian taxi driver (Czerny). He's clearly smitten...and so is she. But she resists his advances (and an economy level future) and runs away, taking his name and inventing an alter-ego - The Baroness Czerny. Mistakenly swept up into high society, the "baroness" is "employed" to seduce a rich married man's wife's lover (I'm not making this up) - for hard cash. The real Czerny seeks her out at a grand ball, and so this Cinderella faces her Midnight. Will he blow her cover? Or will he play along? Is she really just a hardbitten money grabber? Or has she got a heart of gold? The brilliant twists and turns of the ensuing plot will leave you breathless.

Believe me, it's so much more fun than I've suggested - but I mustn't give too much away. If you like strong wise-cracking heroines like Katherine Hepburn, if you like Classic movies like Born Yesterday, if you like sophistication and glamour, if you long for a lost golden age...and if you like laughing out loud - then this is for you.

Simply the greatest Screwball of them all!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Don't forget...every Cinderella has her midnight." And Midnight is one of the best of the screwball comedies, 3 Sep 2008
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C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Midnight [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
If "Midnight" as a title seems puzzling, think Cinderella. Except this time our Cinderella is a gold digger with a self-defeating habit of falling for poor taxi drivers. She's also one of the foxiest, funniest and sexiest young ladies in Paris. No staying at home to sweep out the hearth for her. Midnight, released in 1939, was one of the last of the great romantic screwball comedies that Hollywood had learned how to make during the Thirties. Somehow, it was nearly forgotten while others were treasured. With DVD, here's our chance to see again just how good it is, thanks to Claudette Colbert as the ambitious Eve Peabody; Don Ameche as the cab-driving Tibor Czerny; John Barrymore as the rich Georges Flammarion, a somewhat dissipated fairy godfather; Mary Astor as his wife, Helene; and with Mitchell Leisen directing and Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder writing the screenplay. If you're able to watch this movie without smiling, you must have injected too much Botox around your lips.

Eve arrives in Paris by train with only the gold lame gown she's wearing and a lonely franc in her purse. She's lost all her money and luggage gambling, hoping to make enough to land a rich daddy. Before long Tibor is driving her around in the rainy night in his taxi while she tries to find a nightclub job singing. No luck. Tibor is obviously smitten, but Eve, who likes him more and more, is determined to get ahead in life. She leaves Tibor putting gas in the taxi and runs off into the rain. She winds up at an exclusive salon filled with wealthy patrons being cultured with classical music. And there she meets the rich Georges Flammarion, whose wife, Helene, is being wooed by the rich Jacques Picot (Francis Lederer). Flammarion, no fool, comes to Eve's assistance when awkward questions are about to be asked, and installs her at the Ritz. He then proposes. Not marriage, but an arrangement where Eve will entice Jacques away from Helene, whom George, it turns out, actually loves. Now we're in elegant mansion country, where there are exquisitely dressed guests doing the conga, where Eve is pretending to be the Baroness Czerny (she had to come up with a name, and Tibor's was handy), where she has Jacques enticed and where suddenly Tibor shows up in white tail and tails pretending to be Baron Czerny, where imaginary children have measles, where there can be a wedding gift of a single roller skate covered with Thousand Island dressing, where mix-ups collide with complications, and where Georges must come to the rescue with flawless double takes. We wind things up in a divorce court with a kiss and an embrace, of course, but only after so many really clever fibs and ingenious set-ups that Brackett and Wilder must have used a chart to keep things clear.

Everything works in this sophisticated romantic comedy, and that includes the dialogue by Brackett and Wilder. The movie keeps rushing and fizzing ahead. Colbert dominates but all are at their best (even Ameche, who doesn't come to mind as the first person to cast in a sophisticated comedy). Colbert was just at the cusp of moving into films more suitable to her age (she was 37). In four years she'd be playing the teenage Shirley Temple's mother. She never lost that sexy, clever, resourceful aura of hers, and it's in full force here. To see what I mean, just watch her as Franzi in The Smiling Lieutenant opposite Maurice Chevalier and as Ellie in It Happened One Night. She gives wondrous charm to Eve's ability to come up with plausible alternatives to awkward realities. Barrymore makes a dissipated fairy godfather, but with so much sly charm it's a pleasure to observe his rescues of Eve. Barrymore knows what he's doing, even if by now he had to read his lines from giant cue cards.

The DVD looks very good. There are no extras except for a brief introduction by Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies. The film has plenty of chapter stops but, surprisingly, no index of them on the menu.

If you like Hollywood screwball comedies, I think you'll find Midnight is one of the best.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Priceless, 31 Aug 2013
This review is from: Midnight [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
I first saw this film on TV years ago, and the memory of it has stayed with me ever since. It is, quite simply, one of the funniest, wittiest, cleverest, most entertaining films ever made. Though it is generally only available as a region 1 DVD, I recently acquired a region 2 copy on Amazon. I was afraid it might be an inferior copy of an old video (as I have come across a few times whilst in search of old, unavailable films which I long to see again), but it was a faultless reproduction, every bit as good as the original.
The story is basically Cinderella updated to the 20th century (1939, in fact, when the film was made). Eve Peabody (Claudette Colbert) is a penniless American chancer on the run from Monte Carlo, where she has gambled everything and lost. Arriving in Paris on a train and with only the clothes she stands up in, she accepts a lift from Tibor Czerny, a Hungarian taxi-driver (really Buttons, played by Don Ameche, with his taxi the pumpkin-cum-coach). They drive around looking for a place she can stay. Quite by chance she gets sucked into an aristocratic soiree and mistaken for Baroness Czerny, a member of the Hungarian nobility. She maintains the pretence with the help of Georges Flammarion (John Barrymore), a wealthy parvenu who wishes her to distract the lover of his wife Helene (Mary Astor) and make her see what a gold-digger her inamorata (Jacques Picot) really is (Picot was played by Franz Lederer, most famous now for his role as Lulu's lover in the 1928 Pabst-Brooks film "Pandora's Box"). Tibor, meanwhile, desperately tries to find her, and eventually does - masquerading as Baron Czerny...

There is nothing to criticise in this, the most perfect of films ever made (with the possible exception of "Pepi le Moko", or "The Libelled Lady" or the "Marius" trilogy - or insert your own candidate). Everyone is note-perfect, especially Barrymore, whose range of facial expressions and verbal nuances are a joy to behold. Colbert and Ameche have wonderful chemistry, the dialogue sparkles so much it could have been written by Noel Coward or Oscar Wilde, and the mise-en-scene is immaculate. Need I say more? Write to your MP and get it shown on TV - I'm sure we wouldn't miss one of the endless re-runs of "The Bourne Supremacy"...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Polite Delight Despite the Fight, 20 Nov 2012
This review is from: Midnight [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
I found myself grinning all the way through having laughed out loud about four times. That's not bad! The comic highlights come about two thirds of the way through so you have to wait to feel that it's good all the way through and soars at moments. That's enough. Claudette is great - you feel at times she is (like Don)trying a bit too hard to be amused but by half-way they have settled in. Who knows in which order they did it? Don shouts a bit too much but by the end it is a great successful delight. Just about gets to '5' and my only real reservations are that at times the 'love' gets a bit serious. Stylish throughout and Mary Astor flirting with unlikeability but ultimately sweet and lovely. John Barrymore impressive at times trying to put the silent years' gestures behind him.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it, 25 July 2014
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This review is from: Midnight [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
This is what classic film comedy is all about
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Midnight [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC]
Midnight [DVD] [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] by Mitchell Leisen (DVD - 2008)
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