Classic Film Review -Star of Midnight (1935)

Star of Midnight SUMMARY

When a friend approaches attorney Clay Dalzell requesting his help in finding a missing young woman, Dal reluctantly agrees. Before this amateur detective can even begin, long time friend and wannbe girlfriend Donna Mantin also requests his help retrieving some incriminating letters from a local gangster. That same evening a masked actress disappears from the theater after being recognized and Dal’s friend is shot in Dal’s apartment.

Dal must try to piece together the various puzzle pieces of these seemingly unconnected events while also fending off Donna’s amorous advances. But Dal is more accommodating towards Donna’s sleuthing efforts and allows her to help him investigate. No sooner do they discover a clue, but it turns up more questions. Will Dal and Donna crack this case or will it crack them?


Star of Midnight is a zippy little romantic comedy and mystery which clocks in at 90 minutes. It is very much in the vein of The Thin Man films. While I understand the comparison, I also think it is a bit unfair to the film’s stars.

The Thin Man films feature the incomparable onscreen chemistry of William Powell and Myrna Loy. Many Star of Midnight reviews compare the William Powell and Ginger Rogers pairing unfavorably. There are very few film couples in Hollywood history with the chemistry of Powell and Loy. However, Powell and Rogers have their own unique charm.

In fact, though I’ve seen many of Rogers’ films, including her pairings with her most famous co-star Fred Astaire, her performance as Donna Mantin is one of my favorites. She is funny, frothy, irreverent and remains completely undeterred by Dal’s many rejections of her affection. Not only that, but she is stunning in a couture wardrobe. Rarely has Rogers’ face appeared to better advantage and with better lighting.

Powell plays a familiar role as the teasing, blasé sleuth who lets nothing ruffle his feathers, even the indefatigable Donna. Though Powell began his career playing villains in silent films, he made his name playing good-humored, sophisticated men. This is another such role and one he sails blithely through. Powell also happens to be one of my favorite actors so I could be biased.

Even though this is my second viewing of Star of Midnight, I had forgotten everything other than the verbal banter between Dal and Donna. So, I’m happy to say the mystery aspect of the movie kept me guessing until the end. Of course, with so much action happening in such a brief amount of time, it is hard to keep track of who the villain might be. But that is not the main point of films like this anyway.

All in all, I am happy I re-visited Star of Midnight. It helped reinforce my William Powell crush, portrayed Ginger Rogers at her most beautiful and kept me happily entertained on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Where to Watch: Star of Midnight is available on DVD. It can also be rented on Amazon and occasionally airs on TCM.

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