Midnight Lace (1960) Movie Review

Midnight Lace (1960)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Doris Day in Midnight Lace (1960)

A Dark Day for Doris

Having not been married for long, Katherine (Doris Day - Please Don't Eat the Daisies) finds life in Britain a bit confusing, as that is where her executive husband, Anthony (Rex Harrison - The Constant Husband), is based. But when one day whilst crossing the park in the fog she hears a threatening voice saying she will be killed within the month she becomes frightened despite Anthony dismissing it as someone playing a prank on her. When a few days later she gets a call from a man who again says she will be killed before the month is out Anthony reluctantly takes her to the police but the Inspector is doubtful whether what Katherine is saying is true as he thinks she is attention seeking. Even when her Aunt Bea (Myrna Loy - Cheaper by the Dozen) arrives for a visit it is only Katherine who gets the threatening phone calls causing others to question her sanity.

When you watch "Midnight Lace" it is hard not to be impressed by the acting of Doris Day in a dramatic role, in scenes where she is in a panic or distress she brings the horror of the situation to life. It might make you question why she didn't do more dramas and thrillers but I should think between her personal life and the amount she put in to these sorts of performances it was too emotionally exhausting for her. It is a shame as Doris Day was a fantastic dramatic actress, much more than the pretty blonde in all those romantic comedies, and "Midnight Lace" showcases her talents quite brilliantly.

John Gavin in Midnight Lace (1960)

Anyway, aside from the performance of Doris Day, "Midnight Lace" is another one of those movies where a woman has to deal with a lot of strange things which happen to her but no one else encounters which leads to questions over her sanity. It is a theme which had been done before this movie came out and has been done many times since so to be honest the minute that Katherine hears the threats in the fog whilst her husband is dismissive of them you can guess that someone is out to drive her insane. And in fairness with the cast featuring a few famous faces such as Rex Harrison, John Gavin and Roddy McDowall there are a few suspects, especially as it keeps you guessing as to who is behind it all.

The thing is that at times it feels like director David Miller is trying too hard to make every single scene a visual master piece. Yes there are some scenes where the use of shadow is masterly done, none more so in a stopped lift scene where it masks Katherine's face except for her frightened eyes. But far too often a scene ends up feeling too constructed be it the various camera angles to the way Katherine appears to be prim one minute, then frantic the next.

What this all boils down to is that seeing that "Midnight Lace" is another of those movies about madness it is still entertaining. Much of that is down to the committed performance from Doris Day which puts everyone else in this movie in the shade.