Friday, November 21, 2008


Arnold Gray is a popular radio crooner who sends corsages to his female fans and sets up one-night stands with them all, on different nights of the week, of course. His manager and pianist (Ralph Forbes), a hunchback, stays behind the scenes and is considered a nice guy by everyone who knows him, though Gray treats him like dirt. A mobster wants Forbes to sign over Gray's contract to him, and Forbes refuses, leading to a little dust-up. Meanwhile, Gail Patrick, a singer looking for a break, comes to Forbes' attention; he tells her she has promise, but she must give up her boyfriend to concentrate on her career. Suddenly, halfway through the picture, we learn a surprising fact: Gray's singing is actually done by Forbes, hidden away at the piano, while Gray moves his lips to Forbes' voice. Forbes, who has a bit of a crush on Patrick, suspects that she has been done dirt by the singer, so he heads off to Gray's apartment with a gun, but finds the crooner already shot dead. Assuming that Patrick did it, Forbes covers up for her and tells the police he did it, but she didn't do it after all, and a tragic ending is in store for the sweet-natured hunchback singer.

This very low-budget thriller from Monogram Pictures has several things going for it: an unusual set-up, three solid performances from Forbes, Patrick, and Gray, and a shocking pre-Code ending which lets Murdock's killer get off scot-free. The lip-sync plot element is interesting and allows for a good climax, but otherwise it doesn't feel crucial to the story. Though Patrick is definitely the leading lady, Vivienne Osborne, who starred in silent films, gets top female billing; her role is important but she has less screen time than Patrick. Gabby Hayes, best known as a crusty old sidekick in countless Westerns, is credited as a police officer, but I didn't recognize him. The Alpha DVD print has heavy damage to both picture and sound, but is watchable. [DVD]

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