Saturday 8 October 2022

Movie Review: The Other Side Of Midnight (1977)

A sprawling romantic drama, The Other Side Of Midnight is a beautifully mounted steamy story of passion, betrayal, and revenge spanning 10 years.

In Greece of 1948, Noelle Page (Marie-France Pisier) is imprisoned ahead of being tried for the murder of Catherine Alexander (Susan Sarandon). During a visit by her business tycoon husband Constantin Demeris (Raf Vallone), she recounts her story in flashback.

In Marseille of 1939, Noelle is young and beautiful but from a poor family. Her father sells her to a store owner in a sex-for-cash transaction, and Noelle starts to discover her power over men. She flees and makes her way to Paris, where she meets dashing American fighter pilot Larry Douglas (John Beck), who is volunteering with the RAF as World War Two erupts. They fall deeply in love but he then leaves for service and never fulfils a promise that he will return and they will get married. Noelle lands a job as a fashion model then discovers she is pregnant with Larry's baby.

In Washington DC, the enterprising Catherine lands a job as an assistant to Bill Fraser (Clu Gulager) at a public relations firm. With America about to enter the war, she meets Larry. They experience a rough start then fall in love and get married. After the war Larry finds it difficult to hold a job. Back in France, Noelle embarks on a long-term plan to win back her man, using her sexuality to achieve movie stardom then luring Demeris into a marriage.

Sidney Sheldon's 1973 best-selling page-turner comes to the screen at an epic, no-expenses-spared length of 165 minutes, screenwriter Herman Raucher seemingly intent on capturing all the book's details. The go-big-or-go-home approach works. Director Charles Jarrott delivers a big-budget, handsome-looking production, with rich cinematography by Fred J. Koenekamp and evocative (but judiciously deployed) Michel Legrand music. Costumes, hairstyles, and set designs (before, during, and after the war) are all stellar, with extras animating every scene. The relaxed pacing never slips into boredom, and each of the four lovers involved in the quadrangle are afforded time to develop.

The whirlwind romance between Noelle and Larry is crafted with care to capture a young woman's devastation - then fury - when abandoned, her difficult-to-watch bathtub scene a red punctuation mark. Noelle's desire to reclaim what she believes is hers propels the rest of the drama, Catherine a mere hurdle and Demeris a step-stool to the ultimate objective.

The acting is mostly excellent. Marie-France Pisier covers a lot of ground, sometimes slipping into overclocked emotions but mainly conveying a woman discovering with wonder her inner strength and ability to manipulate with beauty and seduction. Susan Sarandon is the more innocent counterpoint, and Raf Vallone hovers near the edges before stepping into the spotlight with devastating impact. John Beck is adequate but too often slab-like, over-relying on a hunky presence. The impressively deep cast also includes Michael Lerner and Charles Cioffi. 

Brimming with plot, scheming, and sensuality, The Other Side Of Midnight finds a twist to suggest hell may indeed have a fury worse than a woman scorned.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.


  1. This movie was really worth it. As the review mentioned, the acting is 9 / 10 and the movie plot is quite good. Maybe some scenes were indeed a bit too shocking (the bathtub one).
    Highly entertaining and gives one a thought about the consequences of his own actions...

    1. Yes, it's a very well mounted and glossy drama.


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