In a Ross Hunter effort the emphasis is on visual satisfaction. The idea seems to be to keep the screen attractively filled. First and foremost, it is mandatory to have a lovely and popular star of Doris Day’s calibre. She is to be decked out in an elegant wardrobe and surrounded by expensive sets and tasteful furnishings. This is to be embellished by highly dramatic lighting effects and striking hues, principally in the warmer yellow-brown range of the spectrum. The camera is to be maneuvered, whenever possible, into striking, unusual positions.
Basis of the fuss is, preferably, to be a melodrama, but a light, sophisticated comedy is an acceptable alternative.
In Midnight Lace, adapted from Janet Green’s play, Matilda Shouted Fire, Day is victimized by what seems to be a crank on the telephone. Informed by a nagging, mysterious, persistent caller that her life is in jeopardy, she works herself into such a lather that others, Scotland Yard included, begin to believe her obsession is the myth of a neglected wife (husband Rex Harrison is constantly preoccupied with business matters).
Among the chief suspects are John Gavin, a construction gang foreman who makes phone calls in a neighborhood pub; Roddy McDowall, a spoiled young punk who can’t keep his eyes off the heroine; and Herbert Marshall, treasurer in Harrison’s firm who’s having trouble paying off his bookie.
The effervescent Day sets some sort of record here for frightened gasps. Harrison is capable. Director David Miller adds a few pleasant little humorous touches and generally makes the most of an uninspired yarn.