The Horn Blows at Midnight | Chicago Reader

The Horn Blows at Midnight

Jack Benny made this 1945 box office dud into something of a legend over the years by constantly citing it as the film that sank his movie career. It's one of those morbid 40s fantasies, like Here Comes Mr. Jordan, about a trumpet player who dreams he's Gabriel, sent to earth to announce the apocalypse. It's bad, all right, but also weirdly compelling, thanks to some mind-boggling special effects work (check out the celestial chorus in the first reel) and some extremely speedy direction by Raoul Walsh, who seems to have decided that if the jokes weren't good, the least he could do was get through them fast. The material was hardly up Walsh's alley, but he manages to turn the surrealistic finale—a titanic battle with a giant coffeepot—into a study in spatial articulation that rivals the climax of High Sierra. With Alexis Smith and Guy Kibbee. 78 min.

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