"This Could Be the Night" has one of those highly improbable plots that could be the basis of a very good comedy - and it is such. The partners of The Tonic nightclub become very protective of the new secretary one of them hires. Rocco is the fatherly figure and Tony Armotti is the young tough guy and playboy who hasn't quite met anyone like "Baby," Anne Leeds.
Paul Douglas is Rocco and Anthony Franciosa is Tony. They have come up on and become successful businessmen on the wrong side of the tracks. Jean Simmons is Anne, or "Baby" to everyone at The Tonic club. She is an English teacher in New York's public schools and she applies for an evening secretarial job. The first ad she answered was that placed by Rocco, who takes an immediate shine to her. He likes having someone around who can translate his gruff, uneducated manners into civilized discourse - whether on the phone, in business correspondence with food and beverage suppliers, or with customers.
She is a graduate of Smith College for girls, and right away doesn't fit in with the staff of The Tonic. But for one incident with an irate client, the customers like her. And her innocent - but not naïve and friendly, helpful persona quickly wins over everyone -- from the waiters to the chef, busboy, bartender, band leader and members, and cast of the floor show.
This is a delightful comedy of life, and thankfully, it doesn't stretch the unbelievability of the plot to the point of wedding bells by the end with Tony and Baby. But, neither does it foreclose on that possibility.
All of the cast are very good in this very enjoyable film. Besides the leads, some prominent names among supporting actors appear, including former leads from their younger years. J. Carrol Naish as Leon the Chef is one of these, as are Joan Blondell as Crystal St. Clair and Zasu Pitts as Anne's landlady, Mrs. Katie Shea. Julie Wilson is very good as the star singer, Ivy Corlane, and Neile Adams plays her singer and dancer daughter, Patsy.
Here are some favorite lines from the film.
Bruce Cameron (played by William Joyce), "Oh, Anne. I'll try once more. How about dinner tonight?" Anne Leeds, "Sorry, Bruce. Thanks anyway." Bruce, "Aw, Anne, what are you planning to be when you grow up - an old maid?" Anne, "Somebody toooold you."
Ziggy Dawit, columnist (played by Vaughn Taylor), "Well, sitting in a front booth, eating your own food and laughing. You saving money on shills?" Rocco, "Why not? What got ya up so early, Ziggy?" Ziggy, "Oh, I couldn't sleep. What's new?" Rocco, nodding toward Anne, "Her - my secretary." Ziggy, "Oh, so that's what they call it now?" Rocco, to Anne, "He writes a column. They all have dirty minds."
Ziggy Dawit, columnist, "I want one, Rocco, right out of the same valley."
Rocco, "You know who she reminds me of? My ex." Tony Armotti, "Well, that must make you happy. How much was it Tina took ya for?" Rocco, "Okay, wise guy. She reminds me of Tina before Tina got to know guys like me... or you."
Rocco, "Anybody wants me, I'll be at Washing (sic) Market looking at egg plants instead of comics. Believe me, it'll be a relief."
Ivy Corlane, "Ziggy?" Ziggy Dawit, "Ivy, what you haven't got I don't want." Ivy, "You know, Ziggy, I wouldn't be surprised if you were the smartest man in this room." Ziggy, "And from there where do we go?" Ivy, "Honey, what does 'x' mean to you?" Ziggy, "$50 a week alimony forever. At a moment like this, do you have to mention my ex?"
Tony, "And from now on, don't work past eleven. I've got a right to some mess around here."