AT THE MIDNIGHT HOUR
Canada, 1995, 100 minutes, Colour.
Patsy Kensit, Keegan Mac Intosh, Cynthia Dale, Simon Mac Corkindale, Lindsay Merrithew.
Directed by Charles Jarrott.
At the Midnight Hour is based on a novel by Alicia Scott. It is something of a blend of the styles of Mills and Boon with Mary Higgins Clark.
The film is a touch romantic along with its murder mystery. Patsy Kensit is quite charming as a young woman whose husband is accidentally killed by the police and takes a job as a nanny for a particularly introverted child (Keegan MacIntosh). Needless to say she charms him as well as his very remote science expert father, played by Simon Mac Corkindale. Cynthia Dale appears as Jillian – who ultimately appears as the jealous murderer – and Lindsay Merrithew is Mac Corkindale’s brother.
The film is easy to watch, quite undemanding – and predictable in a nice kind of way.
Direction is by Charles Jarrott who began his career in television in the early 60s but made a great impact with a great number of feature films during the late 60s, early 70s including Anne of the Thousand Days, Mary Queen of Scots, Lost Horizon, The Dove, The Other Side of Midnight. He also directed Charles Durning as Pope John XXIII in I Would Be Called John: Pope John XXIII. His later career was again in television with films and miniseries.
1.An entertaining romantic murder mystery? The Mills and Boon perspective? The Mary Higgins Clark perspective?
2.The Canadian settings, the house, exteriors and interiors? The action confined to the house? The musical score?
3.The title, suggestions? The talk of a ghost story? The actual reality?
4.The introduction to Elizabeth, with her husband, the crime, his being shot, her grief? Applying for the job? Her being dismissed by Richard Keaton? The talk about Andrew? Her confronting Keaton, staying, the introduction to Andrew, his being very prim? The gradual ways in which she broke down the barriers, her kindness, playfulness? The discussions with Mrs Pram about the family background? The comment that Mrs Keaton was murdered? Andrew’s point of view, being looked after by his grandparents and their hostility to Richard? Their death and his having to return to his father? The distance between him and his father? Elizabeth and her trying to overcome this? The meeting with Jillian and Brad, the discussions at the table? Her gradual mellowing Richard? His falling in love with her? Mellowing Andrew, his change of clothes, change of attitude, playing? The build-up to the confrontation? Jillian and her friendship, discussions with Elizabeth – taking her to the tower? The final romance, happy ending and future?
5.Andrew, his age, his reaction to his mother’s death, that she was murdered? The distance from his father, looking up his itinerary on the internet? His father’s return, trying to bond with him? His initial resistance to Elizabeth, his previous nannies, suit and tie, scientific books, urging Elizabeth to read them? Computer skills? Surveillance? The basketball into the pool? His gradual change, discussions, his beginning to love Elizabeth, changing his clothes, playing? The build-up to the finale?
6.Richard Keaton, severe, his belief in science? His not wanting to relate to his son? His business trips? His offhand manner? His clashes with his brother, their physical fight? Relationship with Jillian? The memories of his wife? The truth about his wife, her relationships, her death? His attitude towards Elizabeth, tolerating her, gradually falling in love?
7.Richard’s brother, his writing, coming with Jillian? The snide remarks at table? The fight? Jillian, her friendship with Elizabeth, discussions? About the wife? Her ultimate madness, confrontation, in love with Richard, his rejection of her, her killing herself?
8.Mrs Pram, the household, the information about Mrs Keaton?
9.Conventional characters – but amiably and nicely presented?