A Midnight Clear


1h 47m 1992

Brief Synopsis

A story about young U.S. intelligence officers during the last days of War II.

Film Details

Also Known As
Midnight Clear, Section 44
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1992
Distribution Company
InterStar Releasing
Location
Park City, Utah, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m

Synopsis

A story about young U.S. intelligence officers during the last days of War II.

Crew

Marc Abraham

Executive Producer

Armyan Bernstein

Executive Producer

Bill Borden

Producer

Tiny Bradshaw

Song

Don Brochu

Editor

T-bone Burnett

Thanks

T-bone Burnett

Song

Chad Camilleri

Stunt Player

Richard Cheattle

Photography

John Cochran

Thanks

Lori Cochran

Thanks

Nick Condas

Thanks

Steve Davis

Stunt Player

Steve M Davison

Stunt Coordinator

Tim A Davison

Stunt Player

Buddy Feyne

Song

Chris Gamvroulas

Thanks

Steven R. Gehrke

Script Supervisor

Paul Godwin

Stunt Player

Keith Gordon

Screenplay

Liz Gordon

Thanks

Rachel Griffin

Assistant

Cheri Hall

Production Auditor

Margaret Hilliard

Associate Producer

Margaret Hilliard

Unit Production Manager

Gina Homan

Makeup

Norman Howell

Stunt Player

Mark Isham

Music Composer

Kalina Ivanov

Set Designer

Scott Javine

Assistant Director

Edward Johnson

Song

Rick H Josephsen

Special Effects Coordinator

David Kessler

Assistant Camera Operator

John Kiddie

Photography

Andrew Langton

Assistant Director

Greg Lawson

Thanks

Mike Lookinland

Assistant Camera Operator

Gloria Lopez

Assistant

David Lubin

Art Director

Janis Lubin

Set Decorator

Dean Lyras

Thanks

Jenny Manriquez

Production Associate

Jeffrey D Mcdonald

Set Designer

David Nichols

Production Designer

Michael O'kelley

Thanks

Sam Phillips

Thanks

Samantha Phillips

Song Performer

Samantha Phillips

Song

Bobby Platter

Song

Dale Pollock

Producer

Cate Praggastis

Extras Agent/Coordinator

Cate Praggastis

Casting Director

Tom Richmond

Director Of Photography

Tom Rosenberg

Executive Producer

Toby Ross

Thanks

Caitlin Scanlon

Thanks

John Stein

Sound Mixer

Barbara Tfank

Costume Designer

Nancy Volmer

Thanks

Leigh Von Der Esch

Thanks

Judi Voye

Production Coordinator

William Wharton

Source Material (From Novel)

Doug White

Digital Effects Supervisor

Gary M. Zuckerbrod

Casting Director

Film Details

Also Known As
Midnight Clear, Section 44
MPAA Rating
Release Date
1992
Distribution Company
InterStar Releasing
Location
Park City, Utah, USA

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m

Articles

A Midnight Clear


Released in November on DVD by Columbia TriStar, A Midnight Clear is a crisp, intelligent, and tragically underknown WWII drama that came and went in 1992. It centers on a squadron of American soldiers in the French Ardennes Forest, near the German border, in December 1944. The madness of war is shown right off the bat: the men have been handpicked for this "intelligence" mission because they all have high IQ's. The squad (a fine ensemble including Ethan Hawke, Kevin Dillon, Arye Gross, Frank Whaley, and Gary Sinise in his first feature film) holes up in an empty French mansion and discovers a small German platoon nearby.

The absurdities mount - a tossed grenade turns into a snowball fight, and on Christmas Eve the two sides join to sing carols together - and it eventually becomes clear that the Germans wish to surrender, but only after a fake skirmish so it will appear to the oncoming German army that they fought bravely. Director Keith Gordon, who went on to helm Waking the Dead and the current The Singing Detective, coaxes great performances from his ensemble, strikes just the right visual balance of satire and drama, and ends up with poetry. Though small and contained, the story builds to a powerful climax worthy of the great war pictures.

While it may be full of strange, even implausible, events, novelist William Wharton (Birdy) based this tale on fact, and Gordon adapted the book to the screen almost verbatim, retaining most of the mysterious incidents and rich dialogue. According to Gordon's and Hawke's commentary on this disc, WWII veterans responded very positively to this picture, especially to the casting of such young actors in the leading roles. As Hawke points out, the average age of a sergeant in WWII was 20, and these kids were quite vulnerable, scared, and in over their heads, something which is not often depicted in films of WWII. Gordon also mentions that Battle of the Bulge veterans are sure this visually beautiful movie was shot in Europe - actually, it was shot in snowy Utah, at times just feet from major highways. (The $4.5 million budget didn't allow for a trip to Europe.)

The commentary track is quite intelligent, and Hawke's passion for this film really comes through. "This was the first thing after Dead Poets Society that I really wanted," he says, "and I think it's still my favorite script that I've ever read. I don't remember ever wanting to do a job as much as I wanted this film." Gordon and Hawke also discuss the rehearsal process quite insightfully and point out the interesting fact that most of the lead actors in A Midnight Clear have gone on to direct films themselves. This is no surprise, says Gordon, since they were all clearly invested in the whole process of making this film rather than just in their own lines or parts. Also listen for Gordon describing the difficulty of lighting large fields of snow at night, and on shooting the scene in the Germans' shack; it was shot in the middle of the night but lit from the outside to appear like day, a simple yet amazing effect when you look at the scene.

There are also ten deleted scenes on the DVD, with commentary by Gordon. Some are of poor quality because the footage wasn't well-preserved, but several contain quite beautiful moments.

The only problem here, and it's shameful, is that the film is presented "fullscreen" rather than in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. At least the movie wasn't shot in panavision, so the cropped effect isn't as problematic as it might have been, but still, a future widescreen release is a must. Until then, this will do fine. The film, full of tenderness and humanity, is still a must-see.

To order A Midnight Clear, go to TCM Shopping.

by Jeremy Arnold
A Midnight Clear

A Midnight Clear

Released in November on DVD by Columbia TriStar, A Midnight Clear is a crisp, intelligent, and tragically underknown WWII drama that came and went in 1992. It centers on a squadron of American soldiers in the French Ardennes Forest, near the German border, in December 1944. The madness of war is shown right off the bat: the men have been handpicked for this "intelligence" mission because they all have high IQ's. The squad (a fine ensemble including Ethan Hawke, Kevin Dillon, Arye Gross, Frank Whaley, and Gary Sinise in his first feature film) holes up in an empty French mansion and discovers a small German platoon nearby. The absurdities mount - a tossed grenade turns into a snowball fight, and on Christmas Eve the two sides join to sing carols together - and it eventually becomes clear that the Germans wish to surrender, but only after a fake skirmish so it will appear to the oncoming German army that they fought bravely. Director Keith Gordon, who went on to helm Waking the Dead and the current The Singing Detective, coaxes great performances from his ensemble, strikes just the right visual balance of satire and drama, and ends up with poetry. Though small and contained, the story builds to a powerful climax worthy of the great war pictures. While it may be full of strange, even implausible, events, novelist William Wharton (Birdy) based this tale on fact, and Gordon adapted the book to the screen almost verbatim, retaining most of the mysterious incidents and rich dialogue. According to Gordon's and Hawke's commentary on this disc, WWII veterans responded very positively to this picture, especially to the casting of such young actors in the leading roles. As Hawke points out, the average age of a sergeant in WWII was 20, and these kids were quite vulnerable, scared, and in over their heads, something which is not often depicted in films of WWII. Gordon also mentions that Battle of the Bulge veterans are sure this visually beautiful movie was shot in Europe - actually, it was shot in snowy Utah, at times just feet from major highways. (The $4.5 million budget didn't allow for a trip to Europe.) The commentary track is quite intelligent, and Hawke's passion for this film really comes through. "This was the first thing after Dead Poets Society that I really wanted," he says, "and I think it's still my favorite script that I've ever read. I don't remember ever wanting to do a job as much as I wanted this film." Gordon and Hawke also discuss the rehearsal process quite insightfully and point out the interesting fact that most of the lead actors in A Midnight Clear have gone on to direct films themselves. This is no surprise, says Gordon, since they were all clearly invested in the whole process of making this film rather than just in their own lines or parts. Also listen for Gordon describing the difficulty of lighting large fields of snow at night, and on shooting the scene in the Germans' shack; it was shot in the middle of the night but lit from the outside to appear like day, a simple yet amazing effect when you look at the scene. There are also ten deleted scenes on the DVD, with commentary by Gordon. Some are of poor quality because the footage wasn't well-preserved, but several contain quite beautiful moments. The only problem here, and it's shameful, is that the film is presented "fullscreen" rather than in its original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. At least the movie wasn't shot in panavision, so the cropped effect isn't as problematic as it might have been, but still, a future widescreen release is a must. Until then, this will do fine. The film, full of tenderness and humanity, is still a must-see. To order A Midnight Clear, go to TCM Shopping. by Jeremy Arnold

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Shown at Venice Film Festival (Venetian Nights) September 1-12, 1992.

Began shooting February 4, 1991.

Completed shooting March 25, 1991.

Released in United States 1992 (Shown at Santa Barbara International Film Festival March 27 - April 5, 1992.)

Released in United States Spring April 24, 1992

Wide Release in United States May 8, 1992

Released in United States September 1992 (Shown at Venice Film Festival (Venetian Nights) September 1-12, 1992.)

Released in United States on Video December 2, 1992

Released in United States 1992

Released in United States on Video December 2, 1992

Released in United States September 1992

Released in United States Spring April 24, 1992

Wide Release in United States May 8, 1992

Shown at Santa Barbara International Film Festival March 27 - April 5, 1992.