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Star of Midnight

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Star of Midnight
Theatrical release poster
Directed byStephen Roberts
Written byHoward J. Green
Edward Kaufman
Based onStar of Midnight
1936 novel
by Arthur Somers Roche
Produced byRobert Arthur
StarringWilliam Powell
Ginger Rogers
CinematographyJ. Roy Hunt
Edited byArthur Roberts
Music byMax Steiner
Release date
April 19, 1935 (1935-04-19)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$831,000[1]

Star of Midnight is a 1935 American mystery-comedy film directed by Stephen Roberts. William Powell was loaned out to RKO Pictures from MGM to star with Ginger Rogers.


New York lawyer and playboy Clay "Dal" Dalzell (William Powell) is asked by old friend Tim Winthrop (Leslie Fenton) to locate his girlfriend Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in Chicago a year ago. Winthrop cannot stop thinking about her and believes she is in New York.

Along with Donna Mantin (Ginger Rogers), who has romantic designs on him, "Dal" attends a hit stage show called "Midnight" that stars a masked actress, Mary Smith (Bess Flowers), who vanishes in mid-performance when Winthrop recognizes her and blurts out the name Alice.

Gossip columnist Tommy Tennant (Russell Hopton) claims to have discovered a vital clue to the mystery, but before he can reveal it, he is shot in Dal's suite. Dal is the main suspect, but Inspector Doremus (J. Farrell MacDonald) does not believe him to be guilty, and gives the resourceful lawyer the freedom to investigate on his own.

Dal negotiates with gangster Kinland to retrieve letters embarrassing to Donna. When he gets them (using a bit of blackmail), he is annoyed to discover that they actually belong to a friend of Donna's.

Dal is visited by an old flame, Jerry (Vivien Oakland), now wed to a lawyer named Classon (Ralph Morgan). Classon, it turns out, is also searching for Alice; she can provide an alibi for his client, convicted of a murder in Chicago.

Dal sets up a trap in a Greenwich Village apartment, pretending to have located the missing Mary there and notifying each of the suspects that she is leaving there to meet him at his suite. He reasons that those who are innocent will go to his suite, while the murderer heads to the apartment to silence Mary.

The killer indeed turns up, in disguise, putting Dal and Donna in grave danger. Fortunately, Dal and Inspector Doremus are able to subdue the culprit. It is Robert Classon. It turns out that Jerry had carried on affairs, first with the Chicago murder victim, then with his accused killer. Robert Classon killed one of his wife's lovers and tried to frame the other. To achieve the latter, he also needed to silence Alice, unaware that she had fled to avoid testifying. She hated the convicted man for ruining her father.

With everything wrapped up, Dal finally gives in and marries Donna.



In his New York Times review, Andre Sennwald called it a "sleek, witty and engaging entertainment".[2] Noting the similarities to the previous year's The Thin Man (also starring Powell as a debonaire detective), however, Sennwald concluded "it is never quite as satisfying as its illustrious predecessor."[2] Writing for The Spectator, Graham Greene also drew comparisons between the film's craftsmanship and that of The Thin Man (as well as The Trunk Mystery), describing Star of Midnight as "a light, quick, sophisticated comedy ... all suavity and amusement, pistol-shots and cocktails".[3]

The film was popular and earned RKO a profit of $265,000.[1]

Home media

Star of Midnight has been released on VHS as part of the RKO Collection[4] and on DVD in Italy (region 2) as La Maschera Di Mezzanotte, with Italian and English soundtracks.[5]


  1. ^ a b c Richard Jewel, 'RKO Film Grosses: 1931-1951', Historical Journal of Film Radio and Television, Vol 14 No 1, 1994 p55
  2. ^ a b Andre Sennwald (April 12, 1935). "'Star of Midnight,' a Humorous Murder Mystery, With William Powell, at the Radio City Music Hall". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Greene, Graham (16 August 1935). "Der Schimmelreiter/Star of Midnight". The Spectator. (reprinted in: Taylor, John Russell, ed. (1980). The Pleasure Dome. p. 14. ISBN 0192812866.)
  4. ^ Star of Midnight [VHS] (1935). ASIN 6301328442.
  5. ^ "Star Of Midnight - 1935 - Dvd Single". Retrieved December 3, 2011.
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Star of Midnight
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