7.4/10
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26 user 18 critic

History Is Made at Night (1937)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 5 March 1937 (USA)
A wealthy divorcée falls for a charming Parisian, but her insanely jealous ex-husband will do anything to get her back.

Director:

Frank Borzage

Writers:

Gene Towne (screen play), C. Graham Baker (screen play) (as Graham Baker) | 2 more credits »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Charles Boyer ... Paul
Jean Arthur ... Irene Vail
Leo Carrillo ... Cesare
Colin Clive ... Bruce Vail
Ivan Lebedeff ... Michael
George Meeker ... Norton
Lucien Prival ... Private Detective
George Davis ... Maestro
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Storyline

The obsessive and jealous shipowner Bruce Vail does not accept the divorce his wife Irene Vail achieved in London, and he hires his driver Michael Browsky to forge adultery with Irene in Paris to make the decree null. However, she is rescued by the headwaiter Paul Dumond, who punches Michael and locks Bruce and his private eyes in a locker, and they spend a wonderful night together in the restaurant Chateau Bleu, where Paul and his best friend Chef Cesare work, and they fall in love for each other. Meanwhile, Bruce kills Michael and blackmails Irene, blaming Paul and forcing her to return with him to New York. But Paul does not give up on Irene, and moves to New York with Cesare trying to find her love. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Italian

Release Date:

5 March 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Doživljaj jedne noći See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Actress Dana Delany has stated on Twitter that she makes a point of watching this film every Valentine's Day. See more »

Quotes

Bruce Vail: [referring to a painting of Irene] Well, what do you think of your portrait? I had it painted from a cherished photograph, and I'm going to hang it in the royal suite of The Princess Irene.
Irene Vail: By the neck until it dies?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Smash: Chemistry (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

Nearer My God To Thee
(uncredited)
Music by Lowell Mason (1856)
Lyrics by Sarah F. Adams
Sung by passengers on the ship when it was sinking
See more »

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User Reviews

Seamless blend of romantic drama, comedy, and even tragedy with breathtaking finale.
26 November 2002 | by rfells@icfa.orgSee all my reviews

Film critic Andrew Sarris once said that HISTORY IS MADE A NIGHT is the most romantic title in all of film history, and I'm happy to report that this movie lives up to its reputation. An independent production made by former MGM producer Walter Wanger, the film reputedly cost nearly a million dollars - a huge sum in 1937 - and the money really shows on the screen. Leads Charles Boyar and Jean Arthur have such a wonderful screen chemistry between them that it's surprising that they never made another film together. Director Frank Borzage was a specialist in romantic films and here he adroitly blends romantic drama, comedy and even tragedy into a seemless garment.

The plot is surprisingly complex but unfolds in a logical manner. A theme running throughout the story is mistaken identity and characters relying on mistaken information. Boyar thinks he's killed a man, but we know he didn't. Jean Arthur thinks he's thief, but we know he isn't. Arthur's husband thinks she's cheating on him, but we know she isn't. If you wonder how these and other plot points make any sense, you just have to see this film.

Composer Alfred Newman provided a charming theme for the film and I am surprised that it has never been issued in a modern recording of movie mood music. Leo Carrillo supplied hilarious support as Boyar's friend and the ill-fated Colin Clive gave a haunted, tormented performance as the villain. Clive is remembered today as the first Dr. Frankenstein in the first two of Universal's series, FRANKENSTEIN (1931) and BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935). By the time he made this film, a frail-looking Clive was only months away from his own death in June 1937 caused by alcoholism. His performance is all the more poignant as a result.

The film is climaxed by a Titanic-like shipwreck (huge ocean liner on its maiden voyage collides with an iceberg) leading to a final misunderstanding that results in an ironic but satisfying conclusion. The special effects work by James Basevi, while primitive by today's computer graphics standards, is nonetheless impressive. My only complaint is the relatively poor quality of the film print that is available on video today. Considering the fine restoration work that has been done on other films such as HIS GIRL FRIDAY, a restored HISTORY IS MADE AT NIGHT should be on some company's priority list.


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