Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Richard (Fredric March) won a talent contest and his prize is a starring role in a new movie directed by Rupert Borka (Warner Oland).  Borka, however, thinks Richard is a terrible actor and is ready to take the role away from him—he's also bothered because he believes that Richard has been having an affair with his wife.  Richard's not a popular guy: his mistress Helen is waiting for him to get a divorce from his wife Blanche (Florence Eldridge), but the wife confronts Helen and tells her that Richard is a scoundrel who will never marry her; Helen's brother Ted harbors a hatred of Richard for leading his sister on; Helen's father, a night watchman at the studio, has been unaware of the dalliance until now.  One night, Richard is last seen leaving the studio with Borka, but the next day, his dead body is found on one of the sets at the studio, and all of the above folks seem to have motives.  As the cops investigate, so does screenwriter Tony (Neil Hamilton), who, having a bit of a crush on Helen himself, is invested in clearing her name.

This film has many of the weaknesses of the early talkies, such as limited camera movements and scene set-ups, and the mystery itself barely qualifies as a mystery, as it's quite clear, even before the dead body is found, who did it.  But the film is fun for its behind-the-scenes glimpses of the Paramount studio.  Fans of Fredric March, a rising star at the time, will enjoy this because he acts with his real-life wife Florence Eldridge.  There is an amusing chase scene on a staircase set at the studio, and a nice sped-up fisticuffs scene near the end.  Doris Hill, as Helen, is deadly dull, but the rest of actors are fine, including Eugene Pallette as a cop (who has a running-gag feud going on with Hamilton, both pictured above), Chester Conklin as another watchman, and Lane Chandler as a writer working on Borka's movie.  Beware: this is not on DVD, and the print I saw on YouTube has a seriously flawed soundtrack—it's listenable but barely.  Worth it only for fans of early Hollywood. [YouTube]

1 comment:

Dan Bushman said...


Just want to let you know your blog is excellent. I only dream of having the time to watch all these classic movies. When I think of all the crap that is out in the theaters these days, then I want to watch these more.

Just wanted to drop you a note. I've blogged myself, so I know sometimes you wonder if anyone is reading it. I am reading yours.

Keep doing it!

Dan Bushman