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The Midnight Story
movies, Noir

1957 | 16:9 | Black & White | Quality: Excellent

Tony Curtis

Gilbert Roland

Marisa Pavan


Beloved priest Father Thomasino is brutally murdered in a San Francisco alley, and the police have few clues. Low-level traffic cop Joe Martini (Tony Curtis) is devastated, having grown up in the orphanage that Father Thomasino operated. At the funeral, he spots a man, Sylvio Malatesta (Gilbert Roland) who seems extremely agitated over the priest's death and becomes suspicious. However, he is denied permission to investigate by his superiors who think the task is above his abilities. Refusing to be deterred, Martini turns in his badge and decides to investigate himself. Posing as a young fisherman fallen on hard times, he gets a job in Sylvio's crab shack on Fisherman's Wharf. Next, he's invited to live in the home Sylvio shares with his mother and his beautiful cousin, Anna (Marisa Pavan). However, Joe's investigation is complicated as he becomes interwoven with the Malatesta family's lives and he comes to have a great affection for them - especially beautiful Anna who he has fallen in love with. When Joe finds out information that he thinks exonerates Sylvio, he's so relieved and asks Anna to marry him. But at the engagement party, he discovers that Sylvio's alibi is full of holes...

Coming right before his breakthrough role in Sweet Smell Of Success, The Midnight Story is an 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 Gilbert Roland. It's clearly a Tony Curtis vehicle, but as soon as Roland steps onto the screen, he pushes everyone else off. In fact, the only way for anyone else to get their time on screen is to have Roland someplace else. He's big, he's boisterous, he's good-hearted, and loves everyone, particularly the dead parish priest. 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.

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