“Hey, this is swell. Home murder mysteries! Why go out for thrills when you can have them in your own parlor?”
Tim Winthrop (Leslie Fenton) has asked his criminal lawyer pal Clay Dalzell (William Powell) for help tracking down a missing girlfriend. Clay’s sort-of fiancée, Donna Mantin (Ginger Rogers) is intrigued by the case. That night, the three head to the theater, where the mysterious Mary Smith is performing under a lifelike mask.
The mystery is cracked pretty easily when Tim realizes that Mary Smith is none other than his missing gal Alice. But it’s not an easy, happy resolution. Dead gossip columnists, threats from gangsters, and much more trouble await Clay as he gets to sleuthing.
Star of Midnight was directed by Stephen Roberts. The screenplay was written by Howard J. Green, Anthony Veiller, and Edward Kaufman, from a novel by Arthur Somers Roche.
Star of Midnight is set in a high-society world full of trips to the theater and glamorous gowns. Rogers’ character is a socialite who often takes up residence in the newspaper society pages.
Rogers and Powell are a lot of fun to watch together, both snarky and spunky, lightly and jokingly insulting each other. They constantly argue over whether they should marry. Such a cute, screwball-y couple.
This was the only film they made together, and their shared scenes are the film’s best.
Powell is his usual self here — the suave, stylish, and smart-talking sleuth. The character is nothing new for him, but like the others, is a delight. The little twist here is that he’s an amateur sleuth and also a murder suspect, adding some stakes to his adventure.
The film gave me a few good laughs, including from Rogers’ theatrics after “catching” Powell with another woman. The film needs more of Ginger, but is still a very amusing watch.
The mystery gets wrapped up in a cute, thoroughly-resolved ending. Star of Midnight isn’t as heavy on chemistry or laughs as Powell’s more famous mystery-comedies, but it’s still a well-made film, well worth a watch.