That Midnight Kiss In Philadelphia, the soprano Prudence Budell returns from Europe after a period of five years training in the best Europeans music schools. Her millionaire grandmother Abigail Trent Budell sponsors an opera company under the command of the famous maestro Jose Iturbi to give a chance to Prudence to lead an opera. They hire the also famous tenor Guido Russino Betelli, but Prudence does not feel comfortable with him on the stage. When Prudence accidentally sees the American-Italian truck driver Johnny Donnetti singing opera, she convinces Jose Iturbi to give a chance to Johnny. They fall in love for each other, but when Prudence visits his work to tell that he will be hired, she meets Mary and she believes Johnny is in love of his colleague.
That Midnight Kiss For Mario Lanza’s first feature film role it wasn’t much of an acting stretch for him. He played exactly who he was an opera singing truck-driver from South Philadelphia. Mario would have been 28 at the time That Midnight Kiss came out and that is his approximate age right here.
Of course in real life he wasn’t discovered by the granddaughter of another real life noted Philadelphian, Ethel Barrymore. As the plot would have it, Kathryn Grayson finds Mario playing on the piano and singing an old Italian song Mama Che Vio Sape.
Grayson’s got singing talent herself in abundance and when you’re from the Philadelphia Main Line you’ve got a grandmother who’s willing to start a production company built around her. Of course to make sure it makes a little money you want a name tenor like Thomas Gomez as opposed to some unknown truck-driver.
Kathryn would rather make music with Mario both on and off the stage. The story with a few of the usual Hollywood romantic complications shows how they get to do just that.
Mario and Kathryn sang a good collection of classical and popular selections. My favorite recording of Jerome Kern’s first great hit song They Didn’t Believe Me is from Mario’s original cast album of That Midnight Kiss. It’s a solo recording, on screen it’s done with Grayson and done just as beautifully. MGM made a good choice in including that great song in this film.
A good cast of MGM regulars supported Mario and Kathryn that included Keenan Wynn as Lanza’s friend and Jules Munshin as the manager of the opera company. Best in the supporting cast however is Thomas Gomez as the egotistical tenor Lanza replaces. Gomez utilizes some seldom tapped comedy talent for this role.
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer engineered a very auspicious debut for their new singing discovery in That Midnight Kiss.