Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Midnight Lace

 (1960) ***1/2

One does not think of Doris Day synonymously with horror or suspense. When I think of Doris Day I think Que Sera Sera, Pillowtalk with Rock Hudson before he came out of the closet and Calamity Jane. I associate this delightfully wholesome woman with countless musicals I watched on rainy Sundays via the channel 38 Movie Loft. But channel 38 didn’t just play musicals, it also gave me films like The Legend of Hell House, The Apartment and this little side step for Doris known as Midnight Lace.

The films opens up to a very foggy London street as Mrs. “Kit” Preston (Day) is making her way home. An eerie high pitched voice emerges from the fog saying, “Mrs. Preston, I’m so close I could have wrapped my hands around your throat and strangled you.” She looks around panicked but the fog is too thick, she makes a run for it, stumbles, catches her footing and she reaches the door she hears, “Careful, Mrs. Preston. I wouldn't want you to get hurt. Not yet.” All this before the opening credits. Following the incident Kit begins receiving calls from the stalker always threatening to kill her before the month is over. Her husband contacts Scotland Yard but since no one else has heard the caller they write her off as a lonely wife fabricating the scare to get her husband’s attention. The rest of the film is a well-paced twisty tale of intrigue and suspense. 

 Doris stepped clean out of her comfort zone and nails the role with that special kind of grace and innocence that made her America’s sweetheart. Having not seen this film for well over 30 years (damn, I’m old) I did not recall the outcome. I am pleased to say that it kept me guessing right to the end with clever little clues that appeared to be hints taking the suspicion in different directions. I truly love it when I remember a film fondly and rescreening it years later works in my favor. So many of them lose their luster over time but Midnight Lace remains solid and suspenseful. Hooray for Doris Day!

 Oh thank heavens I am so sick of hearing myself sing!

Oh and JPX, there is no singing in this one so you can relax.

4 comments:

Octopunk said...

You answered my question!

The band Pink Martini does a version of the song Que Sera Sera, but they do a creepy version of it. Apparently there's a movie (might be The Man Who Knew Too Much but I'm too lazy to do more than one Google search) in which Doris Day is singing that song but by doing so she's trying to keep somebody alive or something. So it's the same song but sung with a whole different tone, and that's the vibe Pink Martini went for.

Right until the last line of your review I was thinking this must be it.

Nice pick! First Doris Day movie on Horrorthon?

Johnny Sweatpants said...

What the hell is a Doris Day? Just kidding, I (sorta) knew the name.

Who are some other unlikely names seen in horror movies? Off the top of my head I can only think of Betty White in Lake Placid.

JPX said...

Wow, what a find! I never heard of this film, it sounds like fun. Terrific review. I'm pleased that there are no musical numbers.

AC said...

sounds surprisingly creepy!