Saturday, May 01, 2010


Young Herbert Wynn is found dead by his elderly aunt (Elizabeth Patterson) who passes out and needs medical attention. Nurse Joan Blondell, whom we first see complaining to her fellow nurses about the lack of excitement in her life, is assigned to stay at the house to attend to the old lady. Wynn's death is determined to be suicide, but the cop in charge (George Brent) is suspicious and unofficially deputizes Blondell to work on the case. The official theory is that Wynn killed himself and made it look like murder in order to leave his insurance money to his aunt, who has fallen on hard times. Next theory: he was going to fake the suicide so she'd get the money, but someone killed him anyway. Or is it something else entirely? And why does the old aunt want to make out a confidential statement for only her lawyer to read? This is a fairly routine second-feature mystery, enlivened by good chemistry between Blondell and Brent--and Brent was still light on his feet this early in his career before he became too serious and boring. It reminds me of the Nurse Sarah Keate movies of a few years later, though in those films, the nurse was dating the cop; here, it seems strange that Brent would, out of the blue, make Blondell the designated detective. Still, the formula works well enough to keep your interest. Individual sequences, such as the opening, are quite well done, though overall the plot holes are a bit distracting. There are a lot of solid supporting players, most of them skulking suspiciously around the old dark house, such as C. Henry Gordon, John Wray, Holmes Herbert, and Lyle Talbot. Based on a novel by Mary Roberts Rinehart. [TCM]

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