The Midnight Man (1974)

R | 117 mins | Drama | 22 May 1974

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HISTORY

       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, casting took place mostly in South Carolina, where local actors and nonprofessionals were recruited. Two local politicians, Senator Weems Oliver Baskin III and Eleanor Ross, the Superintendent of the Anderson County [SC] Board of Education, were given small roles as a “bartender” and a “bullying woman,” respectively.
       The Nov/Dec 1973 issue of Holiday Inn International Magazine noted that the filmmakers established headquarters at the Holiday Inn in Clemson, SC, where auditions were held. Two employees of the hotel, the innkeeper, B. M. Hutto, and waitress Mary Wilson, were cast in small parts. The sixty-person cast and crew stayed at the Holiday Inn, with the exception of the co-producer, co-director, co-writer, and star of the film, Burt Lancaster, who moved to a more private location after fans began to flood the hotel.
       Principal photography began 13 Feb 1973. Shooting took place largely on Clemson University’s campus. Technicians and equipment from SC’s ETV Network were made available to the crew, and Clemson students and faculty provided assistance. The shooting schedule was six weeks with a budget of $2.5 million, as stated in the Holiday Inn International Magazine.
       Critical reception was mixed. The performances of Lancaster and Susan Clark were routinely praised, while the narrative was deemed difficult to follow by several reviews, including the 17 Jun 1974 Time, the 23 May 1974 LAT, and the 15 Mar 1974 HR, in which Alan R. Howard described the resolution as illogical and the overall storyline “misleading.”
       The Midnight Man marked Burt Lancaster’s only feature film writing credit.
      End credits ... More Less

       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, casting took place mostly in South Carolina, where local actors and nonprofessionals were recruited. Two local politicians, Senator Weems Oliver Baskin III and Eleanor Ross, the Superintendent of the Anderson County [SC] Board of Education, were given small roles as a “bartender” and a “bullying woman,” respectively.
       The Nov/Dec 1973 issue of Holiday Inn International Magazine noted that the filmmakers established headquarters at the Holiday Inn in Clemson, SC, where auditions were held. Two employees of the hotel, the innkeeper, B. M. Hutto, and waitress Mary Wilson, were cast in small parts. The sixty-person cast and crew stayed at the Holiday Inn, with the exception of the co-producer, co-director, co-writer, and star of the film, Burt Lancaster, who moved to a more private location after fans began to flood the hotel.
       Principal photography began 13 Feb 1973. Shooting took place largely on Clemson University’s campus. Technicians and equipment from SC’s ETV Network were made available to the crew, and Clemson students and faculty provided assistance. The shooting schedule was six weeks with a budget of $2.5 million, as stated in the Holiday Inn International Magazine.
       Critical reception was mixed. The performances of Lancaster and Susan Clark were routinely praised, while the narrative was deemed difficult to follow by several reviews, including the 17 Jun 1974 Time, the 23 May 1974 LAT, and the 15 Mar 1974 HR, in which Alan R. Howard described the resolution as illogical and the overall storyline “misleading.”
       The Midnight Man marked Burt Lancaster’s only feature film writing credit.
      End credits contain the following statement: "The Midnight Man was photographed in its entirety in South Carolina. The producers wish to thank the citizens and officials of that state, and in particular of Anderson and Pickens Counties, and the faculty and student body of Clemson University, for their generous cooperation."
More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
1 Apr 1974
p. 4675.
Daily Variety
15 Mar 1974.
---
Holiday Inn International Magazine
Nov/Dec 1973
p. 62.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 1973.
---
Hollywood Reporter
16 Feb 1973
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Mar 1973
p. 19.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Feb 1974
p. 4, 22.
Los Angeles Times
23 May 1974
Section IV, p. 20.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
27 Mar 1974
p. 86.
New York Times
14 Jan 1973.
---
New York Times
15 Jun 1974.
---
Time
17 Jun 1974
p. 81.
Variety
20 Mar 1974
p. 19.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
a Norlan production
a Universal picture
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles & opt eff
MAKEUP
Cosmetics by
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Midnight Lady and the Mourning Man by David Anthony (Indianapolis, 1969).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Come On Back Where You Belong," lyrics by Morgan Ames, music by Dave Grusin, sung by Yvonne Elliman.
DETAILS
Release Date:
22 May 1974
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 22 May 1974
New York opening: 14 June 1974
Production Date:
13 February--late March 1973 in Clemson, SC
Copyright Claimant:
Universal City Studios, Inc.
Copyright Date:
10 June 1974
Copyright Number:
LP43743
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed with Panavision equipment
Duration(in mins):
117
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
23745
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In a small Southern U. S. town called Jordon, college security guard Quartz Willinger is injured during a robbery at Lamar’s Restaurant. Unable to work while he rehabilitates, Quartz recruits an old friend, Jim Slade, to take his place. Jim, a former police detective, was recently released from jail after shooting his wife’s lover. Jim moves in with Quartz and his wife, Judy, and meets with parole officer Linda Thorpe, before taking over Quartz’s night shift. One morning, at the end of his shift, Jim discovers that the classroom of psychology professor, Dr. Pritchett, has been broken into. Pritchett finds his classroom largely untouched except for three missing audiotapes that contain confidential psychotherapy sessions submitted by students. At Pritchett’s behest, Jim informs the three students about the stolen tapes. One is a girl with boyfriend troubles, the second an actor who recorded his session merely to get Pritchett’s attention, and the third is Natalie Clayborne, a mysterious young woman who is unsurprised by news of the robbery but unwilling to reveal the contents of her tape. That night, Natalie waits outside a bar and refuses a ride home from her friend, Arthur King. Jim watches from afar then follows Natalie into the bar, where he accuses her of waiting for the thief who stole her tape. Natalie runs out of the bar in tears. The next morning, Quartz learns that Natalie has been killed. Searching her dormitory room, Jim finds a book that belongs to law professor Waldo Mason and a piece of paper containing lines from a poem with references to a lover named “Janus.” Ewing, the campus janitor, a religious zealot and a known pervert, is ... +


In a small Southern U. S. town called Jordon, college security guard Quartz Willinger is injured during a robbery at Lamar’s Restaurant. Unable to work while he rehabilitates, Quartz recruits an old friend, Jim Slade, to take his place. Jim, a former police detective, was recently released from jail after shooting his wife’s lover. Jim moves in with Quartz and his wife, Judy, and meets with parole officer Linda Thorpe, before taking over Quartz’s night shift. One morning, at the end of his shift, Jim discovers that the classroom of psychology professor, Dr. Pritchett, has been broken into. Pritchett finds his classroom largely untouched except for three missing audiotapes that contain confidential psychotherapy sessions submitted by students. At Pritchett’s behest, Jim informs the three students about the stolen tapes. One is a girl with boyfriend troubles, the second an actor who recorded his session merely to get Pritchett’s attention, and the third is Natalie Clayborne, a mysterious young woman who is unsurprised by news of the robbery but unwilling to reveal the contents of her tape. That night, Natalie waits outside a bar and refuses a ride home from her friend, Arthur King. Jim watches from afar then follows Natalie into the bar, where he accuses her of waiting for the thief who stole her tape. Natalie runs out of the bar in tears. The next morning, Quartz learns that Natalie has been killed. Searching her dormitory room, Jim finds a book that belongs to law professor Waldo Mason and a piece of paper containing lines from a poem with references to a lover named “Janus.” Ewing, the campus janitor, a religious zealot and a known pervert, is questioned after his fingerprints are found in Natalie’s room. Jim tells Sheriff Jack Casey he doubts Ewing committed the murder, but Casey insists on arresting the janitor. Later, Arthur King examines Natalie’s poem and tells Jim that Janus was a Roman god with two faces. Although Jim saw Arthur outside the bar, Arthur denies any involvement in the murder. Outside Professor Waldo Mason’s office, Jim sees Natalie’s friend Betty Childress leaving in tears. In Mason’s office, Jim spots the psychology textbook that was in Natalie’s room and deduces that Betty has just returned it. Mason confesses to Jim about sleeping with many of his female students, but says that Natalie was interested in him because she thought he might be her actual father. Mason reveals that Natalie hated her own father, Senator Clayborne, and was obsessed with the idea that her real father was someone else. The bartender who served Natalie the night she died informs Sheriff Casey that Jim was with Natalie at the bar. Learning that Jim has become a suspect in the murder, his parole officer, Linda warns him against any further involvement, but Jim continues with his search, tracking down an art professor, Karl Metterman, who once painted Natalie’s portrait. Metterman denies having an affair with Natalie but admits that he slept with her mother years ago, leading Natalie to believe that he might be her father. Jim runs into Linda on the street and walks her home. There, they are attacked by three thieves who address each other as “Leroy,” “Cash,” and “Charlie.” Wielding a fire poker, Jim fights them off. As the thieves drive away, Linda identifies them as the robbers from Lamar’s Restaurant. At the police station, Natalie’s father, Senator Clayborne, demands to meet the arrested janitor, Ewing. As Jim works another night shift, he discovers Swanson, Senator Clayborne’s aide, searching Ewing’s quarters for Natalie’s tape. Swanson introduces Jim to Clayborne, who says that Natalie was concerned that the thief might use the stolen tape to blackmail him. Clayborne explains that, when Natalie was fifteen, she got into trouble and was forced to pay a blackmailer. Clayborne worries the same blackmailer has resurfaced. Swanson offers Jim money to cooperate in a private investigation, but Jim does not accept. Returning home, he learns that Mason, Pritchett and King called him to report their homes have been ransacked by someone looking for Natalie’s tape. Guessing that Karl Metterman’s home is next, Jim rushes to the artist’s house and sneaks in through the back door. A man wearing a hat narrowly escapes, but, before driving away, shoots someone who has snuck inside Jim’s car. Back on the street, Jim sees the dead body in his car and recognizes it as Swanson. Jim calls Linda, and the two meet at Linda’s home. Although he knows that Linda is dating restaurant owner Eddie Lamar, Jim reveals his feelings for her and they kiss. In the morning, Jim informs Clayborne of Swanson’s death, and the senator receives a ransom note directing him to the bus station at noon. Clayborne asks Jim not to follow, so Jim sends Quartz, who loses track of Clayborne when the senator switches buses at the last minute. Later, Clayborne tells Jim that he left $250,000 for the thieves and produces the audiotape he received in return. Clayborne says he will send him a check for his trouble. However, Jim suspects Clayborne of lying about his daughter’s criminal past and forces the senator to admit that he once molested Natalie. Assuming the tape will reveal details about the molestation, Jim plays it but discovers that it is the wrong tape. That night, Arthur King asks Jim to meet him outside the post office, but upon arrival, Jim finds Arthur dead. Sheriff Casey arrests Jim on suspicion of King’s murder, but Jim is soon bailed out by the three thieves. They kidnap Jim and take him to a farm. After being held overnight in the cellar, Jim fights his way out, kills Leroy, Charlie, and Cash, and takes Linda’s bracelet back from the thieves’ matriarch, a woman named Nell. Back in town, Jim meets Casey and offers his theory that a police deputy named Virgil is part of the blackmail conspiracy. Meanwhile, Virgil goes to Eddie Lamar’s restaurant to exchange the real tape for Clayborne’s $250,000. Jim and Sheriff Casey interrupt the exchange, and Jim tells Casey he can book Virgil for the murder of Swanson, and Eddie Lamar for the murder of Arthur King. Jim later comes to believe that it was Virgil who inteded to kill him at Metterman’s house, not Swanson, and the only person who knew Jim was going to Metterman’s house was Quartz. Shocked that his friend is behind the murder, Jim wonders why Quartz went to Lamar’s restaurant the night it was held up if he was on the criminals’ side, but then realizes that Quartz was there to see Lamar, his blackmail partner, and the holdup was a coincidence. He figures that Quartz brought Jim into the case to “be his eyes” while he underwent his rehabilitation. Casey arrests Quartz, and Jim goes to Linda’s home where she plays Natalie’s tape for him. However, Jim stops the tape, slaps Linda, and identifies her as the accomplice of Quartz and Lamar, accusing her of sleeping with both men. Noting that Linda was once Natalie’s parole officer, he also identifies her as Natalie’s “Janus,” or two-faced lover. Admitting to the affairs but saying she only cares for Jim, Linda suggests he could have shared the $250,000 if he had been willing to break the law. Outside, Casey ushers Linda into his police car. Later, the sheriff offers a job to Jim, who promises to consider the proposition. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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