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Midnight (1934)

The foreman of a jury asks questions that send a woman to the electric chair for a murder committed in the heat of passion. On the night of the execution, his actions come back to haunt him.

Director:

Chester Erskine (as Chester Erskin)

Writers:

Paul Sifton (play), Claire Sifton (play)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Sidney Fox ... Stella Weldon
O.P. Heggie ... Edward Weldon
Henry Hull ... Nolan
Margaret Wycherly ... Mrs. Weldon
Lynne Overman ... Joe Biggers (as Lynn Overman)
Katherine Wilson Katherine Wilson ... Ada Biggers
Richard Whorf ... Arthur Weldon
Humphrey Bogart ... Gar Boni
Granville Bates ... Henry McGrath
Cora Witherspoon ... Elizabeth McGrath
Moffat Johnston Moffat Johnston ... Dist. Atty. Plunkett (as Moffat Johnson)
Henry O'Neill ... Ingersoll (as Henry O'Neil)
Helen Flint ... Ethel Saxton
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Storyline

The foreman of a jury asks questions that send a woman to the electric chair for a murder committed in the heat of passion. On the night of the execution, his actions come back to haunt him.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

murder | execution | trial by jury | See All (3) »


Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

7 March 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Call It Murder See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

All Star Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Wide Range Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

An independent production, release was being considered through RKO Radio Pictures before deal made to release through Universal. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Ethel Saxon: You see, I loved him. I mean I loved him when... when he didn't love me anymore, day in and day out watching him get further and further away from me. I could see in his eyes when he looked at me... I could see he hated me, hated me because I needed him. Oh, I was so frightened, so mixed up. It's so horrible to see someone who's become part of you slipping away, slowly. To feel helpless and empty, lonely and frantic, wanting to do something, anything, anything to bring him back! To...
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Queer as Folk: Liberty Ride (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Nola
(uncredited)
Music by Felix Arndt
Played on the radio as Nolan is demonstrating the set to Joe.
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Crime of Passion
26 May 2001 | by lugonianSee all my reviews

MIDNIGHT (Universal, 1934), directed by Chester Erskine, based on a stage play, is reproduced as such in this screen adaptation reportedly filmed and produced in New York City. Headed by Sidney Fox, in one of her final screen roles and last for Universal, she plays Stella, the daughter of Edward Weldon, a jury foreman (O.P. Heggie, the actor most famous today for his role as the blind hermit in THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935)) at a trial where a woman, Ethel Saxon (Helen Flint) is accused of murdering a man who betrayed her. Because Weldon is solely responsible for the verdict that convicts Saxon to be later executed at midnight in the electric chair, his personal life changes dramatically. Weldon is not only hounded by reporters after the trial, particularly one named Nolan (Henry Hull, the future WEREWOLF OF London also in 1935) who manages to be a guest at his home on the night of Saxon's execution, but he must stand firm with his decision regardless. Stella, who had become acquainted with a man at the trial named Garboni (Humphrey Bogart), becomes interested in him, unaware that he is a gangster, but learns about him later on in the story when she notices that he carries a gun. When Garboni finds himself having to be forced to leave town, Stella wants to go away with him, but he refuses to let her do so, but agrees on meeting her one last time before he goes. On the very night of Ethel Saxon's execution, Stella and Garboni have a farewell meeting in his car. As the switch is being pulled on Saxon, a gun shoots off on Garboni. Returning home to her father with the gun in her hand, Stella admits to shooting Garboni, which puts the old man into a real predicament as to what to do. Should he stand by his own merits and have his own daughter arrested for the crime, or find a way to violate the law and shield her?

Although the story premise is very interesting, especially the subject about a man who feels a murderer must pay the price, only to have his own daughter commit the same kind of crime of passion, MIDNIGHT fails to deliver mainly because of stiff, stagy production with not so convincing dialog. Under capable hands of a more suitable director, for instance, William Wyler, for example, MIDNIGHT might have worked as a tense and moving drama. Sidney Fox, who usually gives a satisfactory performance, seems to be the weakest link here, talking somewhat shaky at times for no reason. She's not very convincing, especially during her emotional scenes. Occasionally the camera shots moving at different angles keeps the pace moving, but not enough to hold one's interest at 73 minutes.

Other capable members of the cast include Margaret Wycherly as Mrs. Weldon; future director Richard Wholf as Stella's brother, Arthur; Lynne Overman and Katherine Wilson as Joe and Ada Biggers, tenants of the Weldon household; Granville Bates, Cora Witherspoon, Henry O'Neill, and Moffatt Johnston as a district attorney who is called to the Weldon home to solve the mystery to Garboni's murder.

To capitalize on the success of future film star Humphrey Bogart, MIDNIGHT was later reissued in 1946 as CALL IT MURDER with Bogey being given star billing, the very print available to video cassette and DVD. It's the former Blackhawk Video Company of Davenport, Iowa, that distributed the movie on videotape with it's original "Midnight" title, opening credits headed by SIdney Fox, O.P. Heggie and Henry Hill, with Bogart's name listed eighth in the cast, as initially presented in theaters in 1934.

MIDNIGHT will never be listed in Hollywood's Top Ten Best list, but it's worth viewing for being an early screen appearance of future superstar Humphrey Bogart or a rediscovery of Sidney Fox, whose movie career (mostly at Universal) lasted only three years. Fox and Bogart had worked together earlier in THE BAD SISTER (1931), which not only became Fox's movie debut, but the future two-time Academy Award winning actress, Bette Davis. (***)


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