Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Midnight Lace

I watched Midnight Lace some months back because I'd seen TCM hawk that four-film Doris Day box set from Universal and figured since I hade Midnight Lace on my DVR, I'd watch it and do a full-length post on it. It turned out that the box set is now out of print. But a standalone DVD was in the works, and that DVD is being released today.

Doris Day plays Kit Preston, an American in London who's living there because she got married a few months back to businessman Anthony (Rex Harrison). They're well-to-do, as Kit doesn't need to work, and they even have a maid. Anyhow, today she's dealing with her new passport and then is going to do some shopping. But she's warned that it's one of those days where London's stereotypical fog has rolled in, and if she wants they'll call a taxi for her.

Kit decides to walk home, which sets in motion a series of events that changes everybody's lives. While going through Grosvenor Square, she hears a voice that tells her he's watching her, and that he's coming to get her. Needless to say, this sends Kit into a panic -- I mean, who wouldn't be shocked by some strange voice calling you out in the fog where you can't see it?

So Kit tells everybody when she gets home, but of course people don't particularly believe her. At most, it's just the sort of practical joke that people play on each other when the fog rolls in and nobody can see who's doing what. But then Kit gets a call at home from the same guy, which really stuns her. After all, who has their phone number? And why would anybody call her at home. But still it always seems to happen when there's nobody else around to confirm it.

On Kit's side are her husband, fellow tenant Peggy (Natasha Perry), and Kit's Aunt Bea, about to visit from London (Myrna Loy). Oh, and there's the Scotland Yard inspector (John Williams). And of course, there are several obvious suspects. First off is the son of her housekeeper, Malcolm (Roddy McDowall). He seems to be short of money all the time, and frankly, his constant attempts to grasp for money bother Kit. She liks the housekeeper, but not Malcolm. Then there's Brian (John Gavin), a construction foreman at a building site next to the Preston's building. He always seems to be in the right place at the right time. Finally, there's a man who seems to be following Kit, but always just out of sight.

Doris Day didn't get too many chances to do serious drama, and for the most part she does well. This is a part in which the character has good reason to question her own sanity, which is a tough role for anybody to play. It's easy to go too far over the top and turn things into an unintentional parody. Day comes close to the line at times, but generally gives a good performance. (It may just be that I don't like her vocal quality and it's this that makes her sound like she's going over the top.) Rex Harrison is good but nothing special. Myrna Loy does her usual fine job in a supporting role while John Gavin is solid in a role that calls for him to be nothing more than solid. McDowall probably comes closest to going over the top, as he makes his character too much of a jerk. Herbert Marshall and Richard Ney also lend support.

Midnight Lace is a pretty good thriller. Sure, there are plot holes, but it entertains right up until the end. And the standalone DVD is relatively inexpensive.

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