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Midnight (1939)

By Luisa F. Ribeiro | Posted

While the tributes for late, frequently great writer/director Billy Wilder repeat praises for the stuff everyone knows about and has seen a dozen times, some of Wilder's early Hollywood work remains unfortunately overlooked. Nearly forgotten classics Wilder penned with partner Charles Brackett such as 1940's Arise, My Love and 1941's Hold Back the Dawn are criminally unavailable on tape or DVD. Thankfully, a handful of Wilder's early screwball comedies are widely available, including the perfect Ninotchka (1939), the gleefully silly The Major and the Minor (Wilder's 1942 directorial debut), and this wicked charmer. Midnight features a stellar cast (Claudette Colbert, Don Ameche, John Barrymore, Mary Astor) that makes the most of Wilder and Brackett's biting wit and frankly sexual zingers. Colbert is Eve Peabody, a bold but penniless American showgirl stranded in Paris who throws herself on the mercy of a kind taxi driver, Tibor Czerny (Ameche). Wanting a little more than the good-hearted but equally poor Tibor can give, Eve crashes a charity party given by prankster millionaire Georges Flammarion (Barrymore), and the usual frenetic confusion of mixed-up identities and misguided passions unfurls.

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