The Midnight Story


Crime / Drama / Film-Noir / Mystery / Thriller

IMDb Rating 6.7/10 10 766 766

Plot summary

May 11, 2023 at 07:33 AM


Joseph Pevney

Top cast

Tony Curtis as Joe Martini
Marisa Pavan as Anna Malatesta
Chris Robinson as Boy at Dance
Joe Turkel as Lothario at Dance
822.78 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 29 min
P/S ...

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by bmacv 7 / 10

Late, well-cast hybrid mixes noir with ethnic family drama

One night in San Francisco's seedy North Beach neighborhood, a beloved priest is attacked in an alley and stabbed to death. A traffic cop (Tony Curtis), who grew up in the orphanage the priest ran, takes the murder particularly hard but sees it as his chance to advance to the homicide squad. At the funeral, he spots a man (Gilbert Roland) so shaken that his rosary has cut into his hand, drawing blood. Curtis follows his hunch that this man knows something about the murder.

Posing as a young fisherman fallen on hard times, he gets a job in Roland's crab shack on Fisherman's Wharf. Next, he's invited to live in the home Roland shares with his mother and his cousin (Marisa Pavan – Pier Angeli's twin sister). And for about half the movie, the noirish plot about the murder gets shoved onto the back burner like a kettle of red sauce in favor of an Italian-ethnic family drama (Curtis falls for Pavan, who plays hard to get, and so forth).

Though it seems as if director Joseph Pevney has lost track of the suspense story, he hasn't – he interweaves it into the family dynamics. When Curtis finds out information that he thinks exonerates Roland, he's so relieved he asks Pavan to marry him. But at the engagement party, he discovers that Roland's alibi is full of holes....

Falling late in the noir cycle, The Midnight Story recalls in its theme of a priest's killing (and in its San Francisco setting) the haunting little noir Red Light, of 1949. Red Light was pretty hard-core, while The Midnight Story is watered down with heart-warming vignettes. Still, it's more than an honorable try.

Curtis doesn't make the role as unforgettable as Sidney Falco in Sweet Smell of Success the same year, but he doesn't embarrass himself, either. Roland comes close to overdoing the lusty fisherman, but instinctively pulls short. Pavan, however, looks and acts like Natalie Wood as Maria in West Side Story. Special mention, however, ought to go to Jay C. Flippen, as Curtis' `rabbi' in the police department; one of the unsung stalwarts of the noir cycle, he brightens the screen whenever he turns up because he's sure to polish up a little gem of a performance.

Reviewed by bkoganbing 7 / 10

Murder at Midnight

The Midnight Story has Tony Curtis starring as a young motorcycle cop who was raised in an orphanage and the priest who ran it is knifed to death at the midnight hour. As this priest was the single most important figure in his life Curtis wants to get reassigned to homicide to help catch the killer. But he doesn't get reassigned so Curtis quits the San Francisco PD and goes to work on his own. Someone in that Fisherman's Wharf community did the deed and he'll find who it is.

His suspicions fall on Gilbert Roland playing his usual happy go lucky self as one of the fisherman, but Roland is a man who is hiding something obviously.

Curtis's efforts to ingratiate himself with Roland work only too well. He gets a job with him and even boards with his family. He grows to like him and even more important he falls for Marisa Pavan who is Roland's cousin who also boards with him.

Coming right before Tony's breakthrough role in Sweet Smell Of Success, The Midnight Story is a small indication of what Curtis was capable of. He turns in a fine job as the troubled and conflicted cop who wants more than anything to believe Roland is not capable of killing a priest. The real star of the film though is Roland. This part is one of the best he ever did on film.

Some other outstanding performances are Argentina Brunetti as Roland's sister, Ted DeCorsia and Jay C. Flippen as Curtis's police superiors and one that is brief but memorable is Peggy Maley as a potential witness who could finger someone else for the murder. Her scene with Curtis, DeCorsia, Flippen, and Russ Conway as the cops questioning here is quite memorable.

In his memoir Tony Curtis said he liked this film very much. So will you if you see it.

Reviewed by AlsExGal 7 / 10

Tony Curtis and Gilbert Roland are terrific in this little murder mystery

This is really a great early role for Tony Curtis. Curtis plays Joe Martini, a San Francisco cop who got his job on the force through the recommendation of Father Thomasino, and who was in an orphanage from age six after the death of his parents, with Thomasino taking him under his wing and being a father figure to him. So naturally Joe takes it personally when Thomasino is murdered in an alley by an unknown assailant. The priest is beloved in the neighborhood, had no enemies, so the police are stumped. However, they get tired of rookie Joe butting in during the investigation and he turns in his badge so he can investigate on his own.

He has one hunch. He was a pallbearer at Thomasino's funeral, and on the way out of the church he sees a man in great distress, his hands clutching a rosary so tightly his fists are bleeding. The man is Sylvio Malatesta (Gilbert Roland), who owns a local fish market. So Joe goes undercover, posing as a guy looking for a job saying that Father Thomasino was going to recommend him to Malatesta, but that he died before he could. Well, it works. Not only does Malatesta give him a job, he invites him to bunk with his family for awhile. So Joe quickly becomes friends with Sylvio, he actually likes him, and in the Malatestas he finds the family he never had.

There are a few weird things about Malatesta. Apparently he has walked the floor of his bedroom for years - he still does. And he was once engaged to a girl in Italy during WWII, but then she died and he has shown no real interest in marriage since. So Malatesta is indeed a troubled soul, but his troubles predate Thomasino's death by years, and he has an apparent alibi for the night of Thomasino's murder. Can Joe punch holes in that alibi? Does he even want to now that Sylvio's family has become like his family? Watch and find out.

Roland and Curtis are great in this. They have a real brotherly chemistry that makes this film worth watching every bit as much as the murder mystery itself. The only bad thing I can say about the film are the Italian stereotypes. Marisa Pavan plays Sylvio's cousin Anna who plays it over the top with her Italian shrew routine who is either bubbling with anger that comes out of nowhere, slamming doors and throwing things, and then suddenly she is all sweet and doe eyed. It did get tiresome. Then there is Mama Malatesta who acts like a calmed down version of Anna. But besides that, I'd highly recommend this one.

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