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The Midnight Story (1957)

Approved | | Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 4 June 1957 (USA)
When a San Francisco priest is murdered, a policeman, who's a close friend, starts an investigation.

Director:

Joseph Pevney

Writers:

Edwin Blum (screenplay), Edwin Blum (story) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tony Curtis ... Joe Martini
Marisa Pavan ... Anna Malatesta
Gilbert Roland ... Sylvio Malatesta
Jay C. Flippen ... Sgt. Jack Gillen
Argentina Brunetti ... Mama Malatesta
Ted de Corsia ... Lt. Kilrain
Richard Monda ... Peanuts Malatesta
Kathleen Freeman ... Rosa Cuneo
Herb Vigran ... Charlie Cuneo (as Herburt Vigran)
Peggy Maley ... Veda Pinelli
John Cliff ... Father Giuseppe
Russ Conway ... Det. Sgt. Sommers
Chico Vejar Chico Vejar ... Frankie Pellatrini
Tito Vuolo ... Grocer
Helen Wallace ... Mother Catherine
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Storyline

Beloved priest Father Thomasino is murdered in a San Francisco alley, and the police have few clues. But traffic cop Joe Martini becomes obsessed with finding the killer; he suspects Sylvio Malatesta. Ordered off the case, Joe turns in his badge and investigates alone. Soon he is a close friend of the Malatesta family, all delightful people, especially lovely cousin Anna. Uncertain whether Sylvio is guilty or innocent, Joe is now torn between old and new loyalties. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The strangest manhunt in the history of crime!


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

4 June 1957 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Eyes of Father Tomasino See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In August 1957, this film was being shown on a double bill with Tammy and the Bachelor (1957). See more »

Connections

Referenced in Chappaqua (1966) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Late, well-cast hybrid mixes noir with ethnic family drama
6 October 2002 | by bmacvSee all my reviews

One night in San Francisco's seedy North Beach neighborhood, a beloved priest is attacked in an alley and stabbed to death. A traffic cop (Tony Curtis), who grew up in the orphanage the priest ran, takes the murder particularly hard but sees it as his chance to advance to the homicide squad. At the funeral, he spots a man (Gilbert Roland) so shaken that his rosary has cut into his hand, drawing blood. Curtis follows his hunch that this man knows something about the murder.

Posing as a young fisherman fallen on hard times, he gets a job in Roland's crab shack on Fisherman's Wharf. Next, he's invited to live in the home Roland shares with his mother and his cousin (Marisa Pavan – Pier Angeli's twin sister). And for about half the movie, the noirish plot about the murder gets shoved onto the back burner like a kettle of red sauce in favor of an Italian-ethnic family drama (Curtis falls for Pavan, who plays hard to get, and so forth).

Though it seems as if director Joseph Pevney has lost track of the suspense story, he hasn't – he interweaves it into the family dynamics. When Curtis finds out information that he thinks exonerates Roland, he's so relieved he asks Pavan to marry him. But at the engagement party, he discovers that Roland's alibi is full of holes....

Falling late in the noir cycle, The Midnight Story recalls in its theme of a priest's killing (and in its San Francisco setting) the haunting little noir Red Light, of 1949. Red Light was pretty hard-core, while The Midnight Story is watered down with heart-warming vignettes. Still, it's more than an honorable try.

Curtis doesn't make the role as unforgettable as Sidney Falco in Sweet Smell of Success the same year, but he doesn't embarrass himself, either. Roland comes close to overdoing the lusty fisherman, but instinctively pulls short. Pavan, however, looks and acts like Natalie Wood as Maria in West Side Story. Special mention, however, ought to go to Jay C. Flippen, as Curtis' `rabbi' in the police department; one of the unsung stalwarts of the noir cycle, he brightens the screen whenever he turns up because he's sure to polish up a little gem of a performance.


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