That Midnight Kiss (1949): Taurog’s Operatic Musical Starring Mario Lanza and Kathryn Grayson

The prolific director Norman Taurog helmed That Midnight Kiss, a commercially popular but artistically mediocre musical romance, starring Mario Lanza in his first leading role and vet Kathryn Grayson.

Among the supporting cast were conductor-pianist Jose Iturbi (playing himself), Keenan Wynn, J. Carrol Naish, and Jules Munshin.

Grand dame Ethel Barrymore plays Abigail Trent Budell, a wealthy  Philadelphian patron of the arts, who supports her soprano granddaughter Prudence Budell (Grayson), upon the latter’s return from Europe after years of vocal training.

Prudence’s grandmother sponsors an opera company run by the famous maestro Jose Iturbi to give her chance to lead an opera. They also hire the famous tenor Guido Russino Betelli (Thomas Gomez), but Prudence does not like him.

A random meeting with an American-Italian truck driver, Johnny Donnetti (Lanza), who can sing convinces her that Johnny should replace the troupe’s defecting star tenor.

The duo falls in love but things get complicated when she encounters Mary (Marjorie Reynolds), one of Johnny’s colleagues, whom she assumes is in love with him.

In the following year, Taurog also directed Lanza and Grayson in another successful musical, The Toast of New Orleans.