Mill Creek Musings: Midnight Warning (1932)

(Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Though I’ve been impressed by the visual quality of Mill Creek’s DVDs on a few occasions, Midnight Warning is a film that has not aged well. Fuzziness and grain are consistent in this print. (Screen capture by Lindsey for TMP)

Three young people check into a luxurious hotel: two men and a woman. One of the young men is the woman’s brother, the other is her significant other. Soon after, the brother goes missing… and no one admits to ever having seen him, much less knowing where he is now.

Meanwhile, Detective Cornish is visiting his friend Dr. Walcott at the same hotel. Walcott found a human ear bone in his fireplace and wants the detective to check it out. Walcott has a mysterious fainting spell, which the house doctor blames on the heat.

Cornish and Walcott decide to investigate the odd happenings that they keep witnessing at the hotel, but the owners of the hotel are less than keen on them uncovering the mystery.

Though originally titled Midnight Warning, this film was also released as Eyes of Mystery. It was directed by Spencer Gordon Bennett. Midnight Warning was later remade as Dangerous Crossing (1953), starring Jeanne Crain, which takes place on a luxury ocean liner rather than in a posh hotel. The premise is also very similar to that of So Long at the Fair (1950) starring Jean Simmons, which I will be reviewing very soon.

(Image via shop.tcm.com)

(Image via shop.tcm.com)

Midnight Warning isn’t a stellar film. Some of the acting is stiff, and the print which appears in Mill Creek’s 100 Horror Classic boxed set is pretty distorted. The plot is fairly standard of this type of short mystery (clocking in at only about 62 minutes), and if you’ve seen even a handful of films of this type before, you’ll probably be able to predict most of this film’s major developments.

That being said, Midnight Warning is still a fun little watch. I happen to be a fan of this type of low-budget, forgotten mystery, and if you’re a fan of the genre as well you’ll probably get some enjoyment out of this one.

Beyond enjoyment for fans of the genre, the film does pack a few surprises despite its typicality, and there are actually a number of truly thrilling moments (which, of course, I won’t spoil for you).

I would recommend this one mostly for fans of forgotten films or fans of tiny early ’30s mysteries. It’s also an interesting watch as a product of its time, since the ending (which, again, I will refrain from spoiling) probably wouldn’t have passed once the production code was enforced a couple of years later. For the average viewer, though, this will appear as nothing more than an unremarkable little detective film, not a waste of time but not a stellar effort either. The score: 3/5

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2 thoughts on “Mill Creek Musings: Midnight Warning (1932)

  1. It’s cool how you make these nowhere little films sound so damn interesting! The plot also sounds kind of like Roman Polanski’s ‘Frantic’, and the ’90s television series ‘Nowhere Man’ (and, based on the ear, ‘Blue Velvet’). I’ve always wondered about ‘Dangerous Crossing’, so maybe I’ll check that one out first!

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  2. Pingback: So Long at the Fair (1950) | the motion pictures

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