4 - Midnight (1939)
Unemployed American showgirl, Eve Peabody (Claudette Colbert) arrives in Paris with just the clothes on her back, having lost everything at the tables in Monte Carlo. She soon meets smart-alec cabbie, Tibor Czerny (Don Ameche) who agrees to be her chauffeur as she looks for a job. Although they quickly fall in love, she refuses to allow herself to remain poor and flees before it gets too serious.
Stumbling quite accidentally into high society, she meets the fabulously wealthy George Flammarion (John Barrymore) whose faithless wife (Mary Astor) is planning to leave him for ladies' man Jacques Picot (Francis Lederer). Instantly recognising her as a penniless chancer, Flammarion hires Eve to impersonate a fictional Baroness in order to draw the lecherous Picot away from his wife, but the penniless Tibor is determined to win Eve, and tracks her down to Flammarion's country estate, where his presence threatens to blow the entire scheme out of the water.
Billy Wilder wrote the script with Charles Brackett, and his fingerprints are all over the thing, from its snappy putdowns, to its marvellously well drawn supporting characters (Barrymore's scheming Flammarion is a hoot). It was the movie's director Mitchell Liesen's changes to Wilder's script that made him decide to direct from then on.
Sublime pacing and a whole hatful of charm make 'Midnight' one of the best (and last) romantic comedies of the 1930s.
Magic Moment: Baron Czerny is announced...