Midnight Mary Film Details
Overview: An abused orphan sinks into a life of crime.
Tagline: A woman you will never forget!
Review: In 1998 Young called this film “one of the best pictures I’ve ever made,” and it certainly showcases her talent and beauty. At the ripe old age of 20, she had already made over 50 movies, and for a career that would go on for decades more, this was a great period for her. She shows great range, playing tough, innocent, vulnerable, and sexy all very well, and for a short segment, she and co-star Una Merkel even play 9-year-olds pretty credibly (albeit big 9-year-olds, hehe). She’s also in pretty gowns and hats designed by Adrian throughout the film as well, giving it a sleek, beautiful look. One of the things that’s refreshing about the film is that it’s a woman’s story. She falls into being the moll of a gangster (Ricardo Cortez) who intimidates her by saying “You’ll never get away from me. You belong to me, remember?” to which she replies, “I’ve never belonged to you.” She tries to make good after meeting a rich lawyer (Franchot Tone), but her sordid past (of course) is never far behind. She makes her own decisions though, some maybe unrealistically altruistic, but nevertheless empowered. She’s also in control of her own sexuality in moments with both men – sauntering out to Cortez’s car with a knowing look before we see her with her legs dangling out the window, turning down “the beast” in Tone despite him conveying his desires in a scene in the kitchen, and then later whispering something clearly suggestive in Cortez’s ear in the attempt to get him to stay with her. Nothing is ever shown, but with scenes like those, and the one where she kisses Tone on the ear while in a tight embrace, it doesn’t need to be. We also find out that Merkel has gotten pregnant from her boyfriend, and rather than rain down on her morally (or censor this entirely), it’s just treated as something that happens in life. However, with all that said, one regrettable and cringe-inducing aspect is that both women are slapped around, so beware if that’s a trigger to you. While in Young’s case it’s clearly bad guy behavior and not condoned (and she certainly gets her revenge), in Merkel’s case she seems happy after getting slapped, which is tough to see. The film serves to highlight the Depression era, with the despair of neon street signs turning into saying things like ‘No Jobs’ or ‘No Help Wanted’, the simple pleasure of eating after being hungry, and stuffing newspapers into shoes that have holes in them. There is opulence too, but that’s put in contrast with these other scenes, and the combination of economic desperation and being an orphan is what leads Young and Merkel’s characters into crime. Cortez and Tone are both smooth, each in their own way, and make great contrasts to one another. The scene where Young abruptly tells Tone she doesn’t want to see him anymore (to save him from her past) is one of many that are very well played. Director William A. Wellman keeps things moving along briskly, using quick scenes and a lot of shots that slide horizontally to segue to the next. The story is nothing to get too excited about, but the star power of these actors, the production value, and the pre-Code elements all made it a good one for me … and maybe those are the things Loretta Young remembered at age 85.
Duration: 74 min
Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance
Also known as: Keskiyön-rakkautta,真夜中の処女,Midnight Mary,Rosa de medianoche,O Passado de uma Mulher,To rodon tou mesonyktiou,Mary a mezzanotte,Полуночная Мэри,Rose de minuit,Midnight Lady,Lady of the Night