Friday, September 24, 2010

'Midnight Limited' is a train of mystery

Midnight Limited (1940)
Starring: Marjorie Reyolds, John King, and George Cleveland
Director: Howard Bretherton
Rating: Three of Ten Stars

A "phantom bandit" is robbing passengers on the overnight night train from Albany to Montreal and then vanishing without a trace. Rail company detective (King) teams with the only person to get a look at the bandit's face (Reynolds) in hopes of bringing him to justice.

Poor John King. The man did have some talent for acting, but it seems like he always was cast against female co-stars who are so energetic they overwhelm him and make him look like a bump on a log when they share scenes. Such was the case in "Half a Sinner" and it happens to him again in "Midnight Limited". King isn't exactly bad, but he can't hold his own against the strong screen presence and powerful personality of Marjorie Reynolds.

King's drab personality stands out even more, because this is a badly done, boring movie. From the sets, to the sound effects (the Midnight Limited must be a marvel in train technology... never before has the world known such a quiet, stable train! All the cars must be mounted on Serta matresses!), to the poorly written dialogue and uneven pacing of the script, there really is nothing here that's done well. Except perhaps the running time. At just over an hour, "Midnight Limited" is dull but not tortorous to sit through.

Only the presense of the always delightful Reynolds and the mysterious drunk played with great flair by George Cleveland make this film watchable.