9 August 2004 | sol-kay
Once a Cop Always a Cop
****SPOILERS**** Burt Lancaster,Jim Slade, both stared and directed this crime drama set in a southern college about an ex-cop who did time for killing his wife's lover who he found in bed with her.
Having his friend and fellow retired cop, Quartz, Cameron Mitchell, get him a job at the college as a night watchman as part of Jim's parole obligation Jim uses his skills as a big city homicide investigator to crack a murder case that the local police thought they already solved.
Besides Burt Lancaster the movie "The Midnight Man" has a fine cast from old pros like Cameron Mitchall to up and coming stars like the stunningly beautiful Catherine Bach, Natalie Clayborne, and even has Burt's handsome 27 year-old son William in a major role in the movie as Natalie's boyfriend and fellow student Arthur King.
On his first night on the job as night watchman Jim finds that there was a break in at Dr. Prichette, Robert Quarry, office were a number of audio tapes were stolen of students who recorded them for him to help them in their personal problems. One of the tape that were stolen was that of Natalie Clayborne. The next day when Jim asks Natalie about the stolen tape she at first doesn't seem too worried about it. Later that night he sees her outside in the street very despondent as well as both drunk and high on pot where Jim drives Natalie back to her dorm-room at the college.
The next day Natalie is found murdered and the college janitor Ewin, Charles Tyner, who turned out to be a combination religious fanatic and sexual pervert, is arrested and charged with her murder. Police Chief Casey, Harris Yulin, feels that the case has been solved but Jim thinks otherwise. All at once Jim becomes a marked man by those really responsible for Natalie's murder.
It turns out that the stolen tape is being used to blackmail State Senator Clayborne,Morgan Woodworth, who's Natalie's father and who's also in line to be the next state governor. Clayborne molested Natalie when she was a teenager and that's what was recorded on the stolen tape by Natalie but there was more to her death then that. Natalie wrote an unfinished poem to who she was having an affair with who's clues were the Greek mythological personalities Janus & Mylilene that if closely examined identified who was behind her murder.
"The Midnight Man" is a suspense filled murder drama with Burt Lancaster giving one of the best and most underrated performances of his long film career. Complicated but never confusing the movie really comes together in the very last fifteen minutes with all the pieces of the puzzle coming into place. It was then when Jim realized that he was being used by people very close to him that he trusted to get the very incriminating audio tape and then, when he served their aims, make him disappear for good. There are at least three attempts on Jim's life in the movie culminating with an exciting kidnapping breakout and escape from his captors that ended in a slam-bang barn smashing finish.
The ending of "The Midnight Man" is very unconventional for a crime movie but thats what makes the film both unique and at the same time very real and believable where nothing in real life, just like in the movie, is absolute.