Claire Mathewson (Thelma Todd) is married to Olympic javelin thrower Stephen Mathewson (Cary Grant), but that doesn’t stop her from carrying on an affair with Gerald (Roland Young) while her husband is out of town for the Olympics. One night, Clarie and Gerald were supposed to go to the theater, but then her dress gets caught in the car door and is ripped completely off, much to the amusement of the crowd in front of the theater. They cut the night short and head back to her place, but on the way back, Claire tells Gerald that she’s planned a trip to Venice for the two of them. Meanwhile, Gerald’s friend Bunny (Charlie Ruggles) stops by Claire’s apartment to drop off their train tickets. What he doesn’t expect is to run into Stephen, who has decided to not go to the Olympics after all. Of course, Stephen coming back really throws a wrench into Claire’s plans for Venice. Thinking quickly, Bunny tries saying that the tickets were for Gerald and his wife, Claire was just going to tag along on their trip. Stephen doesn’t quite buy that story, but he calls their bluff and insists on coming along, too.
The only problem is that now they need to find someone to pretend to be Gerald’s wife. He tries hiring an actress, but she doesn’t want to upset her boyfriend and the she gets the out-of-work Germaine (Lili Damita) to go in her place. Germaine goes to meet with Gerald, and of course Bunny can’t resist crashing the interview. They initially have their doubts about her, but she manages to win them over and the next thing she knows, she’s on the train to Venice. Claire doesn’t like her right off the bat and can’t stand seeing Gerald with her. She tries to get Gerald to send her back to Paris, but she refuses to leave and threatens to tell Stephen what’s really going on. But it turns out that Gerald isn’t the only one Claire has to worry about. Stephen is a bit infatuated with Germaine. In fact, Germaine is turning out to be the most popular lady on this trip because Bunny and even Gerald, despite his “strictly business” attitude, also begin to fall for Germaine.
Later, as Germaine is getting ready for a night out with Bunny, Gerald gets jealous and sends him away when he arrives. Gerald takes the opportunity to really win her over and she falls for him, but is getting frustrated by this whole set-up and wants to leave. But Bunny isn’t willing to give up so easily and tries climbing a ladder into her bedroom. She tries to get rid of him, but he’s drunk and when he tries to leave on the ladder, he falls into a canal. Stephen overhears the commotion, thinks there’s a burglar in Germaine’s room, and goes to investigate. Gerald and Claire also both rush in and when they see Stephen and Germaine together, they get the wrong idea. After he gets out of the canal, Bunny comes back to explain what happened and Claire realizes that the idea of her husband being in love with another woman has made her fall back in love with him. Claire ends things with Gerald, leaving Gerald free to pursue Germaine.
This is the Night was Cary Grant’s film debut and was actually nearly his last. He really didn’t care for this movie at all and hated it so much that he almost left the industry all together. But luckily, he was talked out of it and the rest is history. But even if Cary Grant didn’t like it, I absolutely adore it. Actually, I’m kind of obsessed with it and I’ve mentioned before that I wish I could live in that movie. I’ve heard some people call it a “poor man’s Ernst Lubitsch film,” but even a poor man’s Ernst Lubitsch is still pretty darn entertaining. It’s hilarious and very pre-code. The cast had great chemistry together, especially Charlie Ruggles and Roland Young. And I just love how stylized it is. I’m not even quite sure what to compare it to. There are times when it kinda reminds me of a silent film with the way the outdoor night scenes are tinted blue and how in the very beginning, it’s just music and synchronized sound effects. Then there are moments where it almost turns into a musical, but it doesn’t quite go all the way with it. It’s certainly a unique one, that’s for sure. I can’t get enough of it.