Thursday, April 21, 2011


[Spoilers included] A train hits a car which we saw being rolled onto the track; the dead man in the driver's seat was a juror in the infamous Wharton murder trial in which a jury found Wharton guilty, but just hours before he was to executed, someone confessed that Wharton had been framed. He is freed but soon has a nervous breakdown, is institutionalized, and kills himself by setting his room on fire. Now, it appears as if someone is avenging Wharton by killing off the jurors; the man in the car is the fourth to wind up dead, with a fifth reported missing. Reporter Joe Keats investigates, and interviews juror Alice Hill, an interior designer, and Jerome Bentley, a foreign gentleman with a fancy beard and heavy accent. Joe develops a thing for Alice, and when another juror is found dead, Joe digs deeper. The mysterious Bentley claims he knows who the killer is, and agrees to arrange a meeting with Joe and the killer in a steam room, but instead Joe winds up trapped in the room and almost boils to death. Of course, [1st Spoiler] the killer is Bentley, but [2nd spoiler] Bentley is actually Wharton, who faked his death in order to pull off this revenge. Meanwhile, Bentley/Wharton is setting a trap for Alice; can Joe get the cops to believe his theory in time to save her?

This B-mystery is generally fun, even though the Bentley/Wharton subterfuge should be crystal clear to any viewer from early on. Part of the problem is that George Macready, who plays the part(s), is too distinctive in looks and accent to be hidden behind a beard and monacle. An early edition of Halliwell's film guide says this is part of Columbia’s "I Love a Mystery" series, but it's not, even though the reporter is played by Jim Bannon, who was the lead in that series (and Macready also appears in the first film). For a B-lead, Bannon suffices--he's breezy and confident--and the whole thing moves at a quick pace. Janis Carter is fine as the femme lead and Jean Rogers steals a scene or two as her assistant, a perky gal from Texas. You may recognize wrestler Mike Mazurki in a small role as a masseur. [TCM]

No comments: