Midnight (Call It Murder) (1934)

midnight 1934

Early Humphrey Bogart appearance where he has a small part as a ….what else?…a gangster.

Ethel Saxon is on trail for killing her husband in a crime of passion. Jury foreman Edward Weldon (O.P.Heggie) asks her if she took money after the killing. She said she did. That’s all it takes to get her convicted and sentenced to the chair. Looking on are gangster Gar Boni (Humphrey Bogart). Sitting next to him is Stella (Sidney Fox), Edwin’s daughter.

Four months go by and Stella and Gar have a relationship. It’s the day of Ethel’s execution. Gar tells a pal he’s leaving for Chicago and breaking it off with Stella. At a pool hall, Edwin’s son-in-law Joe makes a deal with reporter Nolan (Henry Hull). Under the guise of buying a short wave radio Joe will arrange to get Nolan inside the Weldon house for a scoop.

Gathered at the house are Edwin and his wife along with Joe, his wife Ada, Nolan and Stella and Edwin’s son Arthur. Relatives Elizabeth and Henry McGrath stop by. Gar comes by to see Stella. He tells her he’s leaving for six months. She wants to see him off at the train station after midnight. He finally says he’ll meet her at the corner at 11:45. She notices he’s packing heat.

Bulletins are coming over the radio about Ethel’s final moments. Elizabeth wants everyone to stop being so gloomy and gets up a bridge game. Edwin is sick and tired of being hounded by reporters. Police are guarding the house so they can’t get in. He still thinks Nolan is just a pal of Joe’s.

Stella says Gar is leaving for Chicago and had two guys in the car with him. Joe and Nolan come back from going outside and Joe asks Stella if she knows who the dame is that was in Gar’s car. She freaks and run upstairs.

These scenes are interspersed with scenes at the prison with Ethel. As she’s about to walk the last mile Edwin maintains his principals that the law is the law…period. The bell rings. Nolan answers. It’s a cameraman from the paper to get pictures of Edwin at midnight. No one tosses him out after realizing they’ve been set up.

Stella leaves to meet Gar. In the car he drops it on her that they have to split. He’s not the kind of guy for her and he asks her to “be a sport.” Now the movie takes a melodramatic turn and Edwin refuses to back down from his solid beliefs.

It gets hokey and Bogie isn’t in it all that much. O.P.Heggie is over the top as the tormented Edwin. Horror fans all know Henry Hull as Dr.Glendon in 1935’s “Werewolf Of London.” He also appeared in a lot of TV westerns in the 50’s and 60’s.



About vintage45

I'm a big fan of vintage books,movies,TV shows and music. I encourage everyone to patronize your local used book/record store and pick up some of the good stuff. My posts are capsule reviews of some favorites that you may want to investigate. The albums posted aren't really reviews but items from my collection that are still available. I try and point out highlights of each one and let the music speak for itself. Thanks to all for checking out the blog.
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