Falling asleep during the Paradise Coffee ("The Coffee that Makes You Sleep") Program, the band's third trumpeter dreams he's Athanael, an angel deputized to blow the Last Trumpet at ... See full summary »
Falling asleep during the Paradise Coffee ("The Coffee that Makes You Sleep") Program, the band's third trumpeter dreams he's Athanael, an angel deputized to blow the Last Trumpet at exactly midnight on Earth. But Osidro and Doremus, two fallen angels enjoying the physical pleasures of an earthly existence, try to steal Athanael's trumpet, enlisting the aid of suave jewel thief Archie Dexter. Athanael fumbles his first try when he saves Archie's accomplice, Fran, from suicide. His second chance seems doomed when he's forced to leave his trumpet as security for a meal he can't pay for. But he gets it back just in time for a final confrontation with his desperate adversaries, dangling with them from the roof, only seconds from Midnight. Written by
Paul Penna <email@example.com>
I saw this one New Year's night on TV when I was about eleven. The second time I saw it was last night when it was on cable. It was true to my memory. Jack Benny WAS stuck in a giant coffee cup and it WAS an extremely funny movie. The coffee cup gag is one of the most surreal things I've ever seen in a movie from Hollywood's golden age. Imagine a Tex Avery cartoon done in live action and you'll get an idea of the visual. Jack Benny really does look as if he's being filmed in a mechanized coffee cup/coffee pot/coffee spoon structure. It's incredible. Harold Lloyd would have been hard-pressed to match this scene. This scene itself makes this movie well worth watching. The mood of the movie is happy and bouncy as only movies made between 1945 and 1949 are. There must have been some optimism informing Hollywood's imagination as the Second World War wound down. Movies between then and the beginning of the Korean War practically burst with a sense of victory. THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT works as a testimony to a time when America felt itself riding on top of the world. There are other sight gags taking advantage of vertiginous views. People dangle from the ledge of buildings throughout. This is directed by the man who directed HIGH SIERRA, THE ROARING TWENTIES and a few other classics. The dialogue is very much like radio comedy. Jack Benny was, of course, a radio comic. The scene in the diner would have played quite well, if not even a bit better, on radio. I find it significant that a few years after this movie came out, Benny performed in a radio version of it. Others have commented on the fact that he turned this movie's relative box-office failure into a running joke which lasted the rest of his career. Benny's shtick demanded that he exaggerate negative qualities: He deliberately played violin off-key to highlight his radio persona's vanity; He pretended to feud with Fred Allen, when in reality there was no hostility between them. Both comedians boosted their ratings with their supposed feud. He was only playing his part by making people think THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT was the cinematic equivalent of his violin-playing. Not only was it up to Hollywood's standard comedic levels of that time, it surpassed them. Perhaps my familiarity with old-time radio makes me more partial to this movie than the average viewer. I am surprised, nevertheless, that many people find THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT a little pointless. The visuals are amazing, the dialogue is snappy and the music is great. You'll hear a tune which sounds a bit like the Looney Tunes theme. There's a reason for this. Carl Stalling was one of the people who worked on the music, and he worked on many Warner Brothers cartoons. If you like comedy you'll enjoy this movie.
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