William Powell and Ginger Rogers in Star of Midnight (1935)

The Runaway Actress

I like Ginger Rogers, she had this mix of sexy, fun and warmth and it is because it stars Ginger Rogers that I watched "Star of Midnight", well that and because lead actor William Powell rarely disappoints. Neither Rodgers or Powell disappoint in this either and they work together like an old married couple, shooting snappy one liners between them whilst winding each other up beautifully. Sadly for me Rodgers and Powell are the only good things about "Star of Midnight" which when not focussing on them together struggles to keep your attention with a comedy thriller storyline which is less than interesting.

Lawyer Clay 'Dal' Dalzell (William Powell - Mister Roberts) gets a visit from old friend Tim Winthrop (Leslie Fenton) who wants him to track down Alice, a woman who ran out on him a year earlier. Heading to the theatre together with Clay's persistent young friend Donna (Ginger Rogers - The Gay Divorcee), Tim swears that it is Alice on stage till she runs off before anyone can speak to her. Later on a man comes to Clay with information on the runaway actress but is shot dead before can spill the beans. Now dragged into this mess Clay and Donna set about uncovering the truth, finding Alice and finding out who the killer is.

Ginger Rogers in Star of Midnight (1935)

So here is the thing about "Star of Midnight", when ever Ginger Rodgers and William Powell share the screen the movie comes to life with quick fire banter zinging between them. It is wonderful stuff and you would think that Rodgers and Powell had been working together for ever as the timing is spot on and everything including comedy kicks and wind ups seem so natural. But when ever they are apart and we generally get Powell with another actor it loses that buzz and energy, not because of Powell who still keeps knocking out the one liners but no one is there to fire them back.

The knock on effect of this is that when we have Rodgers and Powell as Donna and Clay investigating what is going on it is sharp and fun but becomes dull when they are separated. It becomes so dull that it becomes a struggle to pay attention which in some ways is probably not a bad thing because "Star of Midnight" is a comedy first and mystery second with a fair few plot holes thrown in there. Having said that the final reveal is amusing in a kind of Scooby-doo way.

So as you can guess it is Ginger Rodgers and William Powell who really make "Star of Midnight" entertaining and to be honest most of the supporting performances tend to drift in to the background. But there is one entertaining one thanks to Paul Kelly who as gangster Jimmy Kinland has a few sharp scenes with Powell and gives us the hilarious set up of that whilst Clay is investigating he is tailed firstly by the police, then some heavies who want to makes sure he doesn't find anything and then a couple of Jimmy's heavies to protect him.

What this all boils down to is that "Star of Midnight" is a sporadic movie which for me only really comes to life in the scenes that feature Ginger Rodgers and William Powell together but those scenes are well worth watching the whole of the movie for, especially an amusing ending.