The Midnight Story


1h 29m 1957

Brief Synopsis

Beloved priest Father Thomasino is murdered in a San Francisco alley, and the police have few clues. But traffic cop Joe Martini becomes obsessed with finding the killer; he suspects Sylvio Malatesta. Ordered off the case, Joe turns in his badge and investigates alone. Soon he is a close friend of the Malatesta family, all delightful people, especially lovely cousin Anna. Uncertain whether Sylvio is guilty or innocent, Joe is now torn between old and new loyalties.

Film Details

Also Known As
Appointment with a Shadow, The Eyes of Father Tomasino
Release Date
Aug 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 Jul 1957; Los Angeles opening: 14 Aug 1957
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
8,048ft

Synopsis

When Father Tomasino, a much-loved priest, is stabbed to death in a dark alley, the Italian-American community of North Beach in San Francisco is stunned. No one is more shocked and angry, however, than traffic officer Joe Martini, a former orphan whom Father Tomasino had guided into adulthood. Explaining that the priest was the closest thing he had to family, Joe asks homicide detective Lt. Kilrain if he may assist with the murder investigation. Kilrain impatiently sends him away, and after Joe reveals that a man named Sylvio Malatesta was enduring "the tortures of the damned" during the funeral, and should therefore be considered a suspect, the lieutenant angrily threatens to fire him. Determined to discover the truth, Joe resigns from the force and visits Sylvio at his waterfront restaurant. Joe introduces himself as a friend of Father Tomasino's and explains that the priest thought Sylvio might be able to give him a job. Sylvio treats Joe kindly and invites him home for dinner, and Joe is touched by the jocularity and affection that fills Sylvio's home. It soon becomes apparent that Sylvio, his mother, and his younger brother "Peanuts" are earnestly seeking a husband for Sylvio's pretty cousin Anna, who recently has come from Italy to live with the family. Sylvio takes a liking to Joe and convinces him to move in with his family. Joe soon finds that he, along with so many others in the neighborhood, is becoming fond of the generous and good-natured Sylvio, although because Sylvio restlessly paces the floor at night, his suspicion lingers. Anna explains that Sylvio lost the woman he loved while fighting in Europe during World War II, and that he has been tormented by this ever since. Soon Joe and Anna fall in love, and when Joe becomes convinced that Sylvio was playing cards at the Vallejo Club on the night of the murder, he forgets his suspicions and proposes to her. During their festive engagement party, Sgt. Jack Gillen, Joe's old friend from the police force, beckons Joe into his car. Gillen and Detective Frank Wilkins warn Joe that Sylvio's alibi was a lie. On the night of the murder, Sylvio accompanied his friend, Charlie Cuneo, to the Horizon Club, where Charlie had arranged to meet a married woman named Veda Pinelli for a date. Charlie and Veda then departed, leaving Sylvio alone for the evening. Later that night, Anna demands to know what is gnawing at Joe, but he remains silent. Visiting the orphanage the next day, Anna learns that Joe was once a policeman, but at the station, Gillen refuses to tell her why her fiancé left the force. Upstairs, Joe and Kilrain learn from Veda that Sylvio had been absent from the Horizon Club when Father Tomasino was killed. Joe persuades Kilrain to let him probe Sylvio for a motive before making an arrest. Returning home, Joe seems desperate but refuses to tell the tearful Anna what is wrong. He visits Sylvio at the darkened restaurant and delivers a story intended to test his friend's innocence: The police believe that Joe is the priest's killer. The man who can destroy his alibi is blackmailing him, and he plans to kill him. Sylvio warns Joe not to commit this crime, as it will eat away at him. Sylvio then confesses that because his previous sweetheart had planned to leave him, he killed her. Realizing that Sylvio must have confessed his sin to Father Tomasino, Joe finally accuses Sylvio of the priest's murder. Sylvio admits to killing Father Tomasino, whose gentle, knowing eyes tormented him, but explains that he was only trying to protect his family. Sylvio attacks Joe, but when the young man gasps that he, too, would do anything to protect his family, Sylvio throws down his knife and rushes into the street. A truck hits him, and as he lays dying, Sylvio asks for and receives Joe's forgiveness. Later, Joe tells Gillen and Kilrain that he was unable to confirm that Sylvio was the murderer, and then attempts to console his new family.

Film Details

Also Known As
Appointment with a Shadow, The Eyes of Father Tomasino
Release Date
Aug 1957
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 Jul 1957; Los Angeles opening: 14 Aug 1957
Production Company
Universal-International Pictures Co., Inc.
Distribution Company
Universal Pictures Co., Inc.
Country
United States
Location
San Francisco, California, USA; San Francisco, California, United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 29m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
8,048ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working titles of this film were The Eyes of Father Tomasino and Appointment with a Shadow. The Midnight Story was also a working title for a 1955 Universal film, The Price of Fear, but the two pictures are unrelated. According to contemporary news items, Mark Stevens Productions purchased the screen rights to Edwin Blum's unproduced script The Eyes of Father Tomasino in early August 1955 and announced that it would present the drama first on Lux Video Theatre, as a kind of preview for the feature production. Buzz Kulik directed Keefe Brasselle in the broadcast, which aired on the NBC television network on September 22, 1955. In March 1957, Stevens sold the screen rights to Universal.
       According to information in the film's file at the AMPAS Library, the Academy categorized the script as an adaptation, although the studio had identified it as a screen original. July 1956 Hollywood Reporter news items add Donald Randolph to the cast, but his appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. Reviews noted that some scenes in the picture were shot in North Beach, the Italian-American section of San Francisco. Modern sources add Bobby Barber, Richard Benedict, Chuck Hamilton, John Indrisano, David Leonard, Ralph Montgomery, Chris Robinson, Hall Taggart, Sammee Tong, Joe Turkel, Philip Van Zandt and Paul Weber to the cast. It is possible that the viewed print was edited, and some of these actors were in excised scenes.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer August 1957

CinemaScope

Released in United States Summer August 1957