The Second Annual Doris Day Blogathon…

Midnight Lace
source: Universal Pictures

Doris Day.

Happy Birthday, first of all. Secondly, give yourself a pat on the back.

She really outdid herself this time.

The Doris Day that we like to remember is the girl next door. She’s everyone’s best friend, she’s one who married her child high school sweetheart and bakes cookies for her children’s school bake sale.

Perhaps that facade gets masks the true hidden talent in Day‘s acting arsenal.

In the thriller Midnight Lace, the ‘Hitchcock Day™‘ (something, I dubbed her after watching The Man Who Knew Too Much ) was out in full force.

The film follows newly-wed Kit Preston and her struggles to adjust to life in England. Not only does she have to deal with the melancholic weather and a different culture, she’s also being phone stalked by a man who’s threatening to kill her.

Her husband Anthony ‘Tony’ Preston, played by Rex Harrison, insists that it’s just a practical joke and tries to calm her down with an extended honeymoon to Venice.

Midnight Lace 1960 2
source: Universal Studios

The next day Kit prepares for this trip by buying a variety of clothing. During her shopping spree, she nearly gets hit by a falling girder from a nearby construction site. This is where we get introduced to Brain Younger, played by John Gavin.

He quickly takes an interest in Mrs. Preston, acting as a guardian angel of sorts, whenever she gets in trouble.

The phone calls continue, getting more and more hostile as the days roll on. It gets so bad that Tony takes the initiative and gets Scotland Yard involved. Immediately they bombard Mrs. Preston with a litany questions. Ranging from, ‘do you have any enemies?’ to ‘are you happy in your marriage?’

Naturally Tony takes offense and that leads the head detective, played by John Willams, to question him, insinuating that he may behind this entire ‘stunt.’

As if things can’t get any worse for Kit, Tony cancels their trip to Venice, claiming that work has got him extraordinarily busy.

midnigh lace 1960 3
source: Universal Studios

Luckily, a few days later Kit’s vivacious Aunt Bea, played by Myrna Loy, shows up for an extended stay at her flat.

Things progressively get stranger as the weeks go on. It starts with Kit getting stuck in an elevator and having a panic attack. What she believes is her stalker is actually Brian apologizing for his construction site cutting off the electricity. Next, she gets pushed in front of a moving bus in front of a crowd of strangers The final straw is when the people around start to doubt her, calling her delusional and paranoid.

Tony and Bea take her to a physician where he clears her of all potential ailments.

Seeing as though there’s nothing wrong, Tony decides to re-schedule their trip to Venice, at the insistence of Aunt Bea.

A couple of days pass without calls and the Preston’s deduce that they must’ve stopped. It isn’t until late one night when Tony’s due at a business meeting across town that the calls continue. This time, Tony actually hears the threats. He quickly tells Kit that he’ll cancel his meeting and they’ll devise a plan on how to catch the stranger.

Tony plans to walk out of the building, in plain sight, sneak back in and catch the killer in the middle of his act.

He does just that and this is where the film gets even crazier.

Midnight Lace 1960 4
source: Universal Studios

They wrestle for a while until the “stranger” gets shot with his own weapon. I put “stranger” in quotations because he isn’t a stranger at all but the naval husband of Kit’s supposed best friend and next door neighbor Peggy Thompson, played by Natasha Perry.

This is important because she’s being used as a witness in Tony’s plot to kill Kit while making it look like an accident. You see, Tony recently found that one of his employees’ embezzled one million pounds away from his company. The only way to get that money is to, apparently, kill his wife.

Her husband Roy Ash, played by Anthony Dawson, has been stalking Tony’s movements ever since he returned home from the war. He believed that they were having an affair, and that’s why he’s been so secretive.

Stuck at crossroads, Kit sprints towards her bedroom where she screams out for help. Once again, Brian is there to save the day, conveniently walking out of the pub just in time to help Kit cascade down the scaling safely.

Moments later the police arrive, arresting Tony, Peggy and getting medical help for the wounded ‘intruder’ lying on the ground so desperately needs.

The final shot of the film has Brian and Aunt Bea walking off in the distance comforting Kit with words of encouragement.

Conclusion

midnight-lace-the-end
source: Universal Studios

As I stated earlier, Day‘s dramatic acting skills are very underrated.

During the entire film, I was in shock at how well she carried the heavier, fear-inducing scenes.

I suppose that’s a testament to the director, David Miller.

His use of shadows and darkness to create a frantic mood truly terrified me. As for the acting performances, Rex Harrison was positively unsettling. I always suspected he was up to something, It didn’t surprise me when he revealed himself to be the ‘bad guy’ at the end.

I AM surprised that Doris didn’t receive a nomination for her role as Kit. I thought she did a phenomenal job, acting alongside Myrna Loy certainly isn’t an easy task, but she pulled it off flawlessly.

Speaking of Myrna Loy, I absolutely adored in this movie. Her delivery was quick, witty and at time heartbreak (when we reach the film’s climax, anyway.)

As the film ended, I couldn’t help but think that Day‘s character would bounce back that ordeal.

In my mind, she’d fly back to the States with Aunt Bea for a period of time while they clean out her old apartment, keeping in touch with Brian through a letter correspondence. After a couple of weeks in the US, she’ll return to England where she and Brian will move in together, eventually marrying months later.

One can only hope, right? Please tell me I’m not the only one who believes this?

 

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12 thoughts on “The Second Annual Doris Day Blogathon…

  1. I saw this film last year and I was surprised that it actually creeped me out! Some reviews I had read made fun of the caller’s silly voice, but it legitimately freaks me out. I always knew I was a scaredy cat, but this movie confirmed it.

    I’m glad you pointed out David Miller’s direction — he does a good job! The cinematography is really great, too. Oh, and Day’s costumes are lovely! There’s just a lot to enjoy about this film.

    Thanks so much for participating in my blogathon!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! It was my first time watching it and I absolutely loved it. I really found the caller’s voice unsettling….. it didn’t sit well with me, haha. I’m thinking about picking it up on blu-ray! Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This was the first film I saw Doris Day play a dramatic role, and wow, does she nail it. I was shocked by how well, she played the victim everyone doubts. I too loved seeing Myrna Loy in this movie, mostly because it is the only time I’ve seen her in color. But of course she is as classy and charming as always. John Gavin is one of those I’ve seen in many films but never remember. When he pops up again, I think to myself that he looks familiar and then I have to go look up him online. Anyway, the characters are all so ambiguous that I was kept guessing the whole time.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, Doris Day could ACT! I was left speechless and very nervous in many scenes of Midnight Lace, and when it ended I could only think how convincing Doris Day’s performance was. And, well, it was a treat to see sweet Myrna Loy!
    Cheers!

    Like

  4. Doris Day is on record as saying that she nearly had a nervous breakdown and that production had to be closed down for a few days or weeks for her to recover – Day also swore that she would never do another thriller again and she didn’t. I agree that it’s pretty obvious that Rex Harrison is the culprit – I think the real suspense lies in whether the John Gavin character, the Roddy McDowall character or poor Anthony Dawson would be set up and framed and “Tony” will have pulled off the perfect crime – I thought for sure Kit was a goner here too. Miller’s direction, the London locales, the beautiful wardrobe by Irene (who died tragically a few years later) and the fabulous Myrna Loy make this well-worth watching – one of Doris’s best performances and a film very much of its time – they don’t make them like that anymore – *coda* – the Oscars that year overlooked Doris Day and Jean Simmons in “Elmer Gantry” (probably Simmons’s best performance) – lots of fine films and performances overlooked and more’s the pity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes! I read about that! Day always gave it her all……she’s one of my favourite actress. As for the plot, it’s one of the better classic films I’ve seen – truthfully. The acting was brilliant, the mood was set just right, and the ending made my hair stand on end. I very much agree with your writeup as well haha. Myrna Loy, aged like fine wine, lovely woman. If only Day was able to win an Oscar…..

      Liked by 1 person

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