Monday, April 16, 2012

Mystery Mondays: Midnight Lace (1960)

"Midnight Lace" (1960) starring Doris Day and Rex Harrison is a thriller about a newlywed American heiress, Kit Preston (Day) living in London.  She begins to receive eerie and menacing threats from an unseen source, beginning with a frightening, high-pitched disembodied voice heard by Kit as she walks home alone in the fog one evening.  Terrified, Kit tells her husband, Tony Preston (Harrison), but he reassures her that such occurrences are common in London on foggy nights and it was probably someone's idea of a joke.  Then the next day Kit is almost struck by a falling girder from a construction site next to her apartment building, pushed out of the way in the nick of time by Brian Younger (John Gavin), the contractor.  When she receives a phone call from the same voice that threatened her in the fog, Kit reports the incidents to Scotland Yard, but the inspector who interviews her merely concludes that she is being paranoid.

More unsettling events occur, but Kit only seems to experience them when alone.  Her aunt, Bea Coleman (Myrna Loy), comes for a visit, and she and Tony come to the conclusion that Kit is becoming delusional to the point that they fear for her sanity.  Events finally come to a climax, with an ending probably not unexpected by most, but quite suspenseful nonetheless.

Doris Day does an excellent job portraying the increasingly hysterical Kit Preston.  Day drew upon personal life experience to communicate the terror felt by her character, to such an extent that it affected her health and production of the movie had to be shut down for a few days so that she could recover.  The main actors are impressive as well, as are various others who make brief appearances in the film (Roddy McDowall as her maid's unsavory son, John Williams as Inspector Byrnes, Herbert Marshall as one of her husband's business associates, to name a few).  This is a must-see film for Doris Day fans, who will be impressed with her abilities in a challenging dramatic acting role, but anyone will appreciate this movie as a highly effective thriller.

Interesting Facts: Doris Day was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama for this film.

Doris Day and John Gavin in "Midnight Lace" (1960)
(From The Films of Doris Day)

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