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Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 10 Nov 2015, 12:26
by Musiclover
Joan Crawford recognized Doris's performance, even if the Academy didn't. She said, "I thought Doris's work in Midnight Lace should have brought her an Oscar."

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 10 Nov 2015, 17:11
by Johnny
Bryan- Dan Ireland said that Doris described Rex Harrison as "One of the coldest men I Have worked with".
He said, the saving grace for Doris was Myrna Loy whom she adored.

I was surprised by Dan Ireland's comments. I have read that Rex Harrison was notoriously difficult on film sets and rather egocentric. Most of his performances in films always seemed rather analytical to me with littler emotional connection with the other characters. Perhaps if I look at more of his work I will arrive at a different conclusion.

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 17 May 2016, 10:30
by Johnny
Midnight Lace is one of Doris' most visually interesting films. It is so beautifully photographed, filled with atmospheres and classic, timeless fashions.
Other Doris Day films that have strong visual interest that I like:
Storm Warning
Love Me or Leave Me
Pillow Talk
Billy Rose's Jumbo

These are the DVD Jacket Notes:

Doris Day was in her second year of a remarkable seven year run as the biggest female box office draw in Hollywood when MIDNIGHT LACE (1960) was released.
Launched to superstardom after being paired with Rock Hudson in the racy romantic comedy Pillow Talk (1959), this film allowed her to play against type in a Hitchcock-styled
thriller. Day plays Kit Preston, elegant newlywed wife of British Financier Anthony Preston (Rex Harrison). Shortly after moving to one of London's toniest neighborhoods, she is threatened by n unknown party.The tension mounts as the menacing phone calls continue and Anthony shows little concern, until Kit begins to doubt her own sanity and the motives of everyone around her. A nail-biting thriller with a top-notch supporting cast that includes Myna Loy, John Gavin and Roddy McDowall.

Bonus Features:
Robert Osborne Introduction
Scene Stills Movie Posters
Fashion Featurette
Original Trailer
Colour Scene Stills
British Front-Of-House Stills
Radio Interview Excerpt
Publicity Stills
Fashion Stills
Costume Designs
TCM Article

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 10 Aug 2017, 23:49
by Johnny
While reading reviews on Midnight Lace, one review highlighted an advertisement advising the audience that no one would be admitted to the theater after Midnight Lace begins. It also asked for the ending to be kept secret. I had totally forgotten this fact. It added excitement to seeing the film.

The only other film that I recall not allowing the audience admission to the film after it started was the Alfred Hitchcock thriller. Psycho.

Some reviews criticized unfairly Doris' acting as over-wrought. Looking at other thrillers from the 1960's such as Portrait In Black with Lana Turner, Charade with Audrey Hepburn, Cape Fear with Polly Bergen, The Birds with Tippi Hedren, they experienced similar threatening situations. Within the context of the 1960's, women in dangerous situations appeared more vulnerable than present day.

Rarely is Frank Skinner's moody and eerie Midnight Lace soundtrack music mentioned. It sets the mood for the film right from the beginning when we see Doris cross the square in the fog. Skinner is a brilliant composer. His lush romantic Back Street soundtrack is one of the most beautiful film scores ever recorded.

Midnight Lace is a film that can be appreciated on so many levels. There are so many golden nuggets from the supporting cast, the dazzling costumes and cinematography.

In 1961, Midnight Lace ranked 19th in the list of top box office money- making films.
Midnight Lace- Doris Day
Midnight Lace- Doris Day

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 11 Aug 2017, 05:13
by Jas1
I agree Johnny about MN- a fabulous film on all levels and DD never looked better.

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 25 Aug 2018, 19:09
by Johnny
I found this rather unflattering review of Midnight Lace in The Doris Day Scrapbook by Alan Gelb. I take issue with it but thought it would be a catalyst for further discussion and another point of view. It states:

"Midnight Lace, like Pillow Talk, was a Ross Hunter production and so the appointments were swank, to say the least.

While Doris was being hysterical, which lasted almost from the moment the movie began to the last reel, the audience could drool over her couturier gowns by Irene and the flashing jewels she draped about her person. Rex Harrison was adequate in this George Sanders- type role, and there was an excellent back-up cast including Myrna Loy, Roddy Mc Dowall, Herbert Marshall, and John Williams; the ineffably wooden John Gavin was also on hand. The film had a ridiculous screenplay by the team of Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts (who had seen better days with such films as White Heat and Captain Horatio Hornblower) and it was capably directed by David Miller, who had intriguingly put Joan Crawford through her paces in Sudden Fear. But for all it's worthy personnel, Midnight Lace was a bust---not commercially; it did just fine at the box office-- but as a piece of cinema and a showcase for Doris. Time magazine said of her performance, "Doris Day wears a lot of expensive clothes, and in attempting to portray
the All-American missus behaves like a silly, spoiled, hysterical, middle-aged Lolita that many customers may find themselves less in sympathy with her plight than the villain's murderous intentions."

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 28 Aug 2018, 08:03
by jmichael
It's the script that done her in.

ML was based on a poorly received play Mathilda Shouted Fire and the storyline is a direct copy of Gaslight. The source material was wobbly to begin with and the screenplay needed sharper writing and characters with more depth and complexity to make it fly. I have no issues with Doris' performance. As I said recently, she projects fear brilliantly and her breakdown on the staircase was emotionally raw and convincing. I fault the script, not her performance, for the critical lashing she received from Time magazine. I enjoy ML as glossy escapist fare with the Ross Hunter sheen of gorgeous clothes, glam lighting, and plush set design. It is a great looking film. My main issues are the lack of mystery and the gallery of one dimensional suspects surrounding Doris. It was preposterous for Universal to use the gimmick of not allowing anyone into the theater during the last ten minutes when the bad guy is so obvious.

Coming out a month after Psycho, this film must have struck many moviegoers as pretty tame by comparison.

Michael

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 29 Aug 2018, 05:14
by Jas1
I love Myrna Loy in the film, however, recently I wondered if they had considered Ginger Rogers to play aunt Bea, or older sister/cousin Bea - Ginger looked totally ravishing around this time, I can't see her agreeing to play Doris' aunt [from sister to aunt in less than 10 years] - however, Ginger was far more physically like Doris. Just a thought -her film career wasn't doing anything around this time, she may have jumped at the chance to be in a DD vehicle - which guaranteed box office at this time.

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 29 Aug 2018, 07:28
by jmichael
Ginger would have been dazzling in that role but I think you’re right. She probably wouldn’t have considered playing Doris’ aunt at the time. I love Myrna Loy though. She is wonderful as Aunt Bea and her scenes with Doris crackle with positive energy. They have a lovely rapport on screen. I read Loy’s memoir years ago and she had nothing but good things to say about Doris. I’m glad they had the chance to work together.

Michael

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 30 Aug 2018, 05:13
by Jas1
I agree Michael - I love Myrna in the role, in all her roles, and in her life, she cared about the same things I care about.

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 11 Nov 2018, 07:47
by Jas1
I watched the classic Joan Crawford film "Sudden Fear" last weekend = directed by David Miller who also directed ML - both [rich] damsel in distress films - I couldn't help notice the similarities - particularly the ending scene in both films with the damsel in distress [in high fashion] walks into a brighter [hopefully brighter] future after a near death experience at the hands of her nearest and [not so] dearest.

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 01 Sep 2019, 18:05
by Johnny
In David Kaufman's book on Doris Day, the following is reported on Doris' film Midnight Lace:

Midnight Lace was shot at Universal on a forty-day schedule beginning on March 22 -1960 and concluding on May 16th. British character actress Hermione Baddeley making her American film debut as the busybody barmaid Dora was also up for an Oscar (for Room At the Top) while working on the picture that spring. On the verge of winning a Tony Award for The Fighting Cock; Roddy Mc Dowall went to Hollywood to shoot his scenes in less than a week. Doris Lloyd who played Mc Dowall's mother, Nora, in the picture, had played his mother twice before in Molly and Me, (1944), and Holiday in Mexico (1946).

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 25 Aug 2020, 17:08
by Johnny
This year I have been searching out original reviews on Doris' films to see how they compare with later reviews in books on Doris and movie channel user reviews .

Midnight Lace ranked 19 in 1960 at the box office earning $ 7, 400,00 in the United States. The budget was $3, 500,000.

Bosley Crowther' s review of Midnight Lace on October 14, 1960 in The New York Times included these excerpts:

"It's always nice to have a mystery melodrama , no matter how implausible it may be, that takes place amid elegant surroundings and involves
people who are beautiful and rich. It makes one feel so luxurious to be there with the diamonds and champagne, enjoying the heat on the rich folks and knowing you are not going to be burned. That is how it is in the Road Hunter - Arwin Productiin's "Midnight Lace", a multi- million dollar thriller in colour, which came to the Music Hall yesterday.

Everything in it is expensive - Rex Harrison , Doris Day, his suits, her clothes, his London office, their duplex flat in Grosvenor Square. When they plan to go on a delayed honeymoon trip to Venice, she casually buys a couple of hundred pounds' worth of odds and ends., Including a modest little negligee made of something called midnight lace. When he finds the press of unexpected business at his big mining - stock company will not permit him to make the trip, he brings her a little piece of gondola - shaped jewelry , diamonds and rubies set in gold. The only fly in the gold - tinted ointment is that she is afflicted by a pest of some sort who keeps calling on the telephone and advising her that she is going to be killed. This causes her great mental anguish , more than it logically should, possibly because she is so wealthy and has an uncommon allergy to pests. Anyhow , there is nothing for it but that she and he should go to Scotland Yard and seek the help of a very elegant inspector (John Williams) who is politely sceptical. He indicates as delicately as possible that he suspects the lady may be daft,bmay be having hallucinations, and Mr. Harrison seems inclined to agree. But poor Miss Day -- or rich Miss Day -- knows otherwise, and when she is almost shoved under a London bus by an unseen but strongly sensed stranger , she is sure she is being pursued by a murderer. Now, who can it be? The nice young fellow (John Gavin) working on a building next door to the Grovsner Square apartment? Or her housekeeper's evidently shady and impudent son (Roddy Mc Dowell).?

....
Who could possibly be wanting to kill the terrorized Miss Day? Well for the unconvincing answer you will have to see the film, which shortchanges the wealth bedazzled viewer , only in the way it concludes, Miss Day gives a golden imitation of a love -struck heiress scared out of her wits and Mr, Harrison is virtually sterling as her chin -.up stout fellow spouse. The Messrs. Gavin, Mc Dowell , Bey, and Marshall are smooth and Myrna Loy pops in as a rich American relative to drop a few glittering gags. David Miller's direction is standard and the decor is absolutely posh. It is too bad that Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts couldn't have figured a more expensive and negotiable way to have it end. "

I find a certain element of smugness in this review. Referring to the killer as a pest, mocking purchased as odds and ends. I find it curious that Crowther described the colour of a negligee as midnight lace. Doris wore a black lace top and slacks as she climbed out the window to the construction site. I have always been under the impression this is the Midnight Lace of the film title.


There have been several comparison of Midnight Lace with Dial M for Murder. Both films have women in danger and the phone playing a significant part of the story. I wonder how Midnight Lace would have turned out if Alfred Hitchcock had directed.

I did not like charm deficisnt Rex Harrison in the role as Doris' husband. I think Cary Grant would have made the husband more interesting. Doris and Cary looked great together That Touch of Mink.

Myrna Loy's witty character as Doris' Aunt Bea brought a much needed comic relief.

Midnight Lace remains an enjoyable thriller and a delight to watch.

Re: Midnight Lace

Posted: 26 Aug 2020, 14:18
by jmichael
This a mixed but mostly favorable review. Yes, there's a cheeky tone to it but Crowther didn't take the film too seriously because it was more about high end production values and movie star glamour than spinning a nitty-gritty yarn about a woman in peril. The plot is a direct descendant of Gaslight and I don't think many people were surprised when Harrison turned out to be the bad guy either.

I wish Ross Hunter had ordered a rewrite and given the script a few more twists and turns and made the supporting players a cut above the usual gallery of suspects. The film's release date wasn't helpful either. ML came out 5 weeks after Psycho, which shook everyone to their core and reshaped audience expectations of what could befall a female protagonist in a suspense film.

But as a showcase for Doris at the absolute peak of her film stardom and physical beauty, the film cannot be faulted. She was brilliant at projecting raw terror even when the script lets her down and her reactions seem out of proportion to the danger the character is facing. Doris was among a handful of iconic female stars whose presence alone made audiences want to see a film. She was right up there with Davis, Crawford, Stanwyck and a few others who could make almost any film worthwhile.

Michael