Midnight Lace (1960)


Doris Day stars as a recently married woman who gets lost in the London fog one afternoon. A mysterious voice threatens her life in that mist, and later makes a series of nasty phone calls to her. The caller threatens in a high voice that she’ll be dead inside a month, but as the calls keep coming, everyone begins to think she’s making the whole thing up for attention. By the third act poor Doris is questioning her sanity and fearing for her life.

Midnight Lace is a fun mystery/thriller that makes everyone a suspect. Roddy McDowall and John Gavin make early contenders, but are they red herrings? Not even husband Rex Harrison and aunt Myrna Loy are above suspicion. Doris Day proves capable of escalating emotional distress, while Harrison finds a balance between trust and mistrust of his wife’s assertions. Loy’s colorful aunt character brings welcome humor and levity to the tension.

The screenplay does an excellent job at misdirection, keeping many suspects viable until the last minute. I may be more gullible than some viewers, but I was surprised at the final reveal. The fun of the mystery combined with Day’s convincing performance, beautiful sets and Eastman color photography make Midnight Lace a solid pop-corn muncher.

With Herbert Marshall, Natasha Parry and Hermione Baddeley.

Oscar Nomination: Costume Design (Irene)

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