Middle of the Night (1959)

A few years after the death of his wife, Jerry Kingsley (Fredric March) has resigned himself to a life of loneliness.  He’s 56 years old, his children are grown, he lives with his sister, and he works too hard at the clothing company he owns.  But Jerry finds some brightness in his life one afternoon when he stops by his secretary Betty’s (Kim Novak) apartment to pick up some papers for work.  The two of them get to talking and Betty ends up telling Jerry all about her failed marriage.  Jerry gives her some good advice, but ends up finding himself smitten with Betty.  The only problem is that Betty is young enough to be his daughter.

Jerry wants to pursue a relationship with Betty, but is afraid that it would be wrong of him to be in love with someone so much younger.  Betty also tries to proceed with caution.  But their relationship quickly gives Jerry a whole new outlook on life and they are soon engaged.  Naturally, the news shocks both of their families, although Jerry’s family eventually comes around to liking Betty.  However, Betty’s family and friends keep trying to convince her to get back together with her ex-husband George.  Soon the pressures start to get to Betty and Jerry and Jerry starts seeing any younger man who comes near Betty as a threat.  After the two of them fight one night, Betty comes home to find her ex-husband waiting for her and Betty is left to decide if she wants to go back to George or stay with Jerry.

I can sum up my thoughts on Middle of the Night in two words: overlooked gem.  It’s a very well written movie with strong direction and excellent performances from Fredric March and Kim Novak, but for some reason, it doesn’t get talked about very often.  Why it isn’t a better remembered film is beyond me.  If you’re a fan of either Fredric March or Kim Novak, this is a must see.  Both of them give some very honest and vulnerable performances.  If you’re a fan of the movie Marty, Middle of the Night should be right up your alley (both were directed by Delbert Mann).  Definitely keep an eye out for this one on the TCM schedule.

This is my contribution for the March in March Blogathon hosted by Sittin' on a Backyard Fence. For all things Fredric March, be sure to visit there for more blogathon contributions.

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9 comments

  1. I’m sold! I generally don’t like to see my beloved classic stars in their “older” roles (silly, I know, but I can’t help it), but after reading your review, I will definitely be on the lookout for this one. Great post.

    1. I’m glad that Fredric was able to still get good roles in quality movies once he got older. Far too many great actors and actresses got stuck in such terrible movies once they got older, but I’d say Fredric’s career ended on a pretty strong note.

  2. I agree that this is an excellent film, it is one of my faves and I am also sorry that it does not get the recognition I feel it deserves.

  3. Angela,

    I love <Middle of the Night. It breaks my heart every damn time. And you are absolutely right: it is an underrated gem.

    I’ve never been a huge fan of Kim Novak, but her performance works well in this.

    Thanks so much for contributing!

  4. I’ve got this on my ‘Saved’ Netflix queue. Haven’t seen it in many years.

    Jacqueline over at her blog, ANOTHER OLD MOVIE BLOG did a good piece on MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT some months ago you might be interested in. She too thinks this is an overlooked gem.

  5. I agree with you that Middle of the Night has been underrated. Really heartbreaking performances from the two leads and while it isn’t as charming as Marty, it’s a lot more daring and complicated. Great post.

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