Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

MIDNIGHT INTRUDER

Louis Hayward
















MIDNIGHT INTRUDER (1938). Director: Arthur Lubin.

"Houses without people, people without houses." -- Barry musing on the inequities of life.

Barry (Louis Hayward) and his older pal Doc (J. C. Nugent) are completely broke after Barry loses all of their money at the track. Seeking shelter in a rainstorm, they enter a big empty house and later are mistaken by servants for wealthy John Reitter Jr. and one of his friends. Learning that the real Reitter won't be coming home, Barry decides to keep impersonating him and enjoying the good food and liquor and high-toned companions, although Doc is increasingly nervous until he meets rich widow Mrs. Randolph (Jan Duggan of The Old-Fashioned Way). Then Barry learns that the real Reitter (Eric Linden) has been jailed for murder under an assumed name and things get complicated. The oddly-titled Midnight Intruder [which makes it sound almost like a horror film] starts out as a light-hearted comedy and turns into a mediocre mystery halfway through, although it is continuously bolstered by the work of most of the cast, especially Hayward in another absolutely winning lead performance. Nugent is also fine, and the supporting actors include Irving Bacon and Pierre Watkin. Duggan is as much fun as ever in her brief turn as the widow and Robert Grieg scores as the butler Willetts.

Verdict: Amiable, even if it goes off course at the midway point. **1/2.

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