Star of Midnight (1935): RKO Mystery Comedy, Starring William Powell and Ginger Rogers

William Powell was loaned out from MGM to star with Ginger Rogers in RKO’s Star of Midnight, a mystery-comedy directed by Stephen Roberts and James Anderson.

Powell plays New York lawyer and playboy Clay “Dal” Dalzell, asked by old friend Tim Winthrop (Leslie Fenton) to locate his girlfriend Alice, who mysteriously disappeared in Chicago a year ago.

Along with Donna Mantin (Ginger Rogers), who has romantic designs on him, “Dal” attends a  stage show called “Midnight” that stars masked actress Mary Smith (Bess Flowers), who vanishes in mid-performance when Winthrop recognizes her.

Gossip columnist Tommy Tennant (Russell Hopton) claims to have discovered a clue to the mystery, but before he can reveal it, he is shot in Dal’s suite. Dal is the main suspect, but Inspector Doremus (J. Farrell MacDonald) does not believe he’s guilty, and tasks the lawyer with the investigation.

Dal sets up a trap in a Greenwich Village apartment, pretending to have located the missing Mary and notifying each suspect that she is leaving there to meet him at his suite. He reasons that those innocent will go to his suite, while the murderer will head to the apartment to silence Mary, which indeed happens, when the killer indeed turns up in disguise.

Inevitable comparisons were made to the previous year’s far superior “The Thin Man,” which also starred Powell as a debonair detective.  But the movie, however, has its moments of wit and light humor, and requisite pistol-shots and many cocktails, making ie a passably entertaining fare, which was popular at the box-office.

 

Cast
William Powell as Clay “Dal” Dalzell
Ginger Rogers as Donna Mantin
Paul Kelly as Jim Kinland
Gene Lockhart as Horace Swayne, Dal’s butler
Ralph Morgan as Robert Classon
Leslie Fenton as Tim Winthrop
J. Farrell MacDonald as Police Inspector Doremus
Russell Hopton as Tommy Tennant
Vivien Oakland as Jerry Classon
Robert Emmett O’Connor as Police Sergeant Clearey