Movie Critique - Before Midnight
Stars: 3 / 5
Recommendation: A decent early whodunit film with some good acting; decent layout of plotting that only becomes complex as things progress; keeping with the theme of mystery and chillness effectively.
Before Midnight is a 1933 pre-Code mystery crime drama directed by Lambert Hillyer released by Columbia Pictures. It stars Ralph Bellamy, June Collyer and Claude Gillingwater among others. It is the first of the four Inspector Steve Trent murder mystery movies with Ralph Bellamy starring as Inspector Steve Trent, all made by Columbia Pictures from 1933 thru 1934.
Police Inspector Steve Trent is on the case of the death of Edward Arnold (portrayed by William Jeffrey) who had supposedly prophesied his own death. This leads to a 63 minutes of mystery, chaos, comedy and confusion with everyone living in the Arnold Mansion coming under suspicion.
I accidentally came across this movie when I was posting review of some other movie a while ago. And many of them who commented on this film or wrote a review had mentioned that Ralph Bellamy was the worst actor in this film even though he got top billing, and the entire movie in general was badly made.
I have watched a few Ralph Bellamy movies in the past and I don’t think he was a very bad actor. So it intrigued me to see how his earlier film got such a bad review. And hence my thoughts here.
Screenplay was written by Robert Quigley. The opening credits are shown on a huge clock that is showing time a few minutes shy of 12 O'clock. Then they move onto the mansion where the murder happens. The cast are listed as "The Players" and the story is told in flashback mode by Police Captain Frank Flynn (portrayed by Joseph Crehan)
I disagree with all the reviews that were written on this movie. Bellamy acted well, and just like many of the gumshoes that come after him. Yes there was a bit drag in the plot-line and some scenes could have been shortened. But overall it’s a decent mystery movie made during the pre-Code era that definitely paved way to all those film noir that came later.
A decent early whodunit film with some good acting; decent layout of plotting that only becomes complex as things progress; keeping with the theme of mystery and chillness effectively. Not a bad watch for something that was made in the 30s.
1) Movie Trivia:
a. The remaining three films in the Inspector Steve Trent series are - 1934 One Is Guilty, 1934 The Crime of Helen Stanley and 1934 Girl in Danger.
2) Grammatical / Historical / Location / Character Errors:
a. When John Fry (portrayed by Claude Gillingwater) comes to meet Trent, we can see the door being closed twice between long shot and close-up.