For Reel

The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945)
September 26, 2014, 4:49 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Raoul Walsh
3.5 Stars
The Horn Blows at MidnightJack Benny turned his last starring picture into a sort of legend by often citing it as the flop that ruined his movie career. Some report that The Horn Blows at Midnight actually did turn some profit, however not quite what might have been anticipated–being released just a week after the death of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and near the end of the second World War may be responsible for the lack of audience interest in this rather cynical farce. If none of its jokes are particularly memorable, it has charm to spare and Benny is well-cast as the kindly but bumbling angel who has been assigned the task of bringing about the end of the world. What Benny brings that a Bob Hope or a Red Skelton couldn’t have is his comparative demureness–he is perfectly suited for the naive, fish out of water role. When he informs passersby that they need not worry about what troubles them because the apocalypse is only hours away, it doesn’t seem to be done in a taunting manner, rather as a sort of sweet gesture of empathy. Improbably, the picture was directed by Raoul Walsh, but one can see his mastery of space and scale during the climactic scene in which Benny dangles from a giant coffee cup.

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