Night Song is a ludicrous melodrama, made palatable by a couple of its supporting players and its beautiful Lucien Ballard cinematography. Mentioning the supporting players over the stars isn't meant to denigrate Dana Andrews or Merle Oberon. Andrews is appropriately mule-headed and bitter, and Oberon, looking truly lovely and radiant, is appropriately sympathetic and lovestruck. It's merely that their characters are written in the baldest, most obvious manner, and so there's little the stars can do with them to make them come alive. They also are forced to carry the plot, and that's the real problem, for Night Song's plot is one of the most contrived, incredible and, to modern audiences at least, laughable that one can imagine. It's the type of plot that cries out for lampooning, and many viewers will be unable to watch without laughing out loud at the set-up and the unbelievable twists and turns that follow. Because they are not called upon to carry this silly story, the supporting players come out better, especially Ethel Barrymore and Hoagy Carmichael. Barrymore turns in one of her patented "wise woman" performances, not so terribly different from the one in A Portrait of Jennie, but enjoyable nonetheless. But it's Carmichael that steals the show and provides the film with its best moments. Not really an actor, Carmichael is an entertaining personality who, in small doses, can give a problem film a big lift -- as he does here. (It should also be said that Carmichael's little "Who Killed the Black Widow" tune is much preferable to the faux-classical dreck that Andrews' character is supposed to have written.
by Craig Butler review