Midnight Mary

The opening of William Wellman's elegantly constructed, visually inventive melodrama puts the audience in the jury box, with a prosecutor urging us to find the beautiful Mary (Loretta Young) guilty of murder. Later, awaiting the verdict, Mary asks the court clerk, “You don't think those twelve good men are going to give me a break, do you?”—with the emphasis on men. A series of flashbacks outlines a life with few breaks: orphaned at age nine, wrongfully jailed as a teenager, Mary is no stranger to unemployment, homelessness, and hunger. (In one memorable sequence, as she walks the streets, glamorous advertisements metamorphose into mocking announcements of “No jobs today.”) It's no wonder she falls in with gangster Ricardo Cortez, and no wonder she flees from him to the arms of well-to-do playboy Franchot Tone. This being melodrama, Mary's misfortunes are never far behind her, but Anita Loos's script holds out the possibility that love could triumph over law.
—Juliet Clark

This page may by only partially complete. For additional information about this film, view the original entry on our archived site.