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This 68-minute version I saw stars Mae Murray as Renee Sorolla, a
Mexican woman who is the granddaughter of the infamous French
Mademoiselle Midnight, a woman so notorious she was banished from the
court of Napoleon to Mexico. The spirit of the grandmother (Murray
again) drifts through the hacienda at odd moments to inspire Renee.
This is not a comedy, as often stated, but is a romantic drama about greed and crooked politics. After Renee's father is killed by a bandit, she is shipped off to Mexico City to live with her slimy politician uncle who steals her estate and declares her insane. Luckily, an American she met (Monte Blue) and her devoted cousin (Johnny Arthur) come to the rescue.
The prologue is a rather confusing mishmash about Napoleon, the American Civil War, and the French "invasion" of Mexico. This all seems rather unimportant to the main story, but gives it some context.
Murray at 35 is a bit too old for the innocent Renee, but in her black wig she's quite stunning. She gets to do a little bullfighting and a lot of dancing, first at a fiesta, and later at a party in her uncle's house. Blue is OK as the stalwart hero. Arthur is fine as the silly cousin who is not as silly as we think.
Others in the cast include Otis Harlan as the padre, John St. Polis as the colonel, Nigel De Brulier as the nasty doctor, Mathilde Comont as the nasty nanny, Robert McKim as the bandit, and Nick De Ruiz as the uncle.
Apparently there are several versions of this film floating around in which the characters have different names. This film was produced by Tiffany Productions and released through MGM soon after its merger. The follow year, Mae Murray would have her biggest film success with THE MERRY WIDOW.
Romance set in Old Mexico. Success in its time which raises the mystery of how the passing of years renders a popular film of the time into a work today's audience will wonder where our grandparents' found its appeal. Proof of how popular culture struggles to endure. This is by no means a bad movie, in fact a typical silent programmer, well acted, directed, art directed. But only for scholars and Murray fans today. Mae (as a brunette) looks great, changes into elaborate costumes several times and works in a high quality dance number -- each being standard Murray film trademarks.
French-Mexican spitfire Mae Murray (as Renée) troubles her father by
following in the ways of her ancestral feminine side - she's a reckless
spirit who must be constrained. Despite being kept under close watch,
Ms. Murray manages time for bull-fighting with kindred spirit cousin
Johnny Arthur (as Carlos), and sneaks out to dance wildly at a fiesta.
While out partying, Murray attracts the attention of Monte Blue (as
Jerry aka Owen). Meanwhile, fearsome Robert McKim (as Joao aka Manuel)
tries to get control of Murray's ranch, by shooting her father. Then,
revolutionary forces conspire to commit Murray to an asylum, and steal
This silent film could be confusing to many modern viewers. It's an historical epic fashioned for star Mae Murray, by her director husband Robert Z. Leonard and their "Tiffany" production company. Those who labeled it a "comedy-western" were probably bewildered by the opening segments (with Abraham Lincoln and Napoleon), and lost interest after Murray's comic bull-fighting and fiesta segments. To make matters worse, there are different versions of "Mademoiselle Midnight" - with "Renée" sporting last names "Gontran", "Quiros", and "Sorolla" - depending on the print you see, translation and editing could be a problem. And, it's only a fair film.
**** Mademoiselle Midnight (4/14/24) Robert Z. Leonard ~ Mae Murray, Monte Blue, Johnny Arthur, Robert McKim
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