US / 63 minutes / bw / Supreme, Weiss Brothers Artclass Pictures Dir: Christy Cabanne Pr: Louis Weiss Scr: Jo Van Ronkel, Barry Barringer Story: Ed Barry Cine: Sidney Hickox Cast: Aileen Pringle, Jameson Thomas, Dorothy Christy, Richard Tucker, Harry Myers, Niles Welch, John Vosburgh (i.e., John Vosper), Jack Mower, Wilfred Lucas.
Theatrical “angel” Tony Blair (Tucker) has been pestering the star of a play he backed, Claire Norvelle (Pringle), to the point that his wife has divorced him. Now Claire finds that “just by coincidence” he’s aboard a liner on which she’s traveling to LA—indeed, “just by coincidence” he’s gotten himself a connecting cabin with hers; she has the purser move her elsewhere.
Also aboard “just by coincidence” is Blair’s current floozy Constance Forbes (Christy), who’s by no means happy to be treated like a doormat while he pursues the actress. Other passengers include cardsharp Roy Fenton (Welch), his sidekick Sturgeon (Myers)—who’s the movie’s dreary “humor” component because perpetually drunk—another cardsharp, Henderson (Mower), who happens to be Constance’s brother, and Bruce Allan (Thomas), a criminologist and crime reporter for the New York Times.
Bruce and Claire, evidently old friends, soon take a renewed shine to each other, their overtures interrupted by Blair yet again boorishly attempting to force his attentions on Claire. Bruce pulls him off, and there’s not quite a fight.
Fenton has been hoping to snag Blair into a poker game, and succeeds. He sends Sturgeon to find someone to make up a four, and Sturgeon reins in Henderson. Later they’re joined by the ship’s radio operator, Dayton (uncredited). The game breaks up in acrimony, with Blair accusing Henderson and Fenton of cheating; he pays his $1250 losses to the former but declines to pay the $900 he owes the latter.
The tense stud poker game: left to right, Henderson (Jack Mower), Tony Blair (Richard Tucker), Roy Fenton (Niles Welch) and Sturgeon (Harry Myers).
Claire discovers that Blair has left a gift in her cabin; despite the lateness of the hour, she goes to his cabin to return it. He leaps upon her; the next we see, she’s fleeing back toward her own compartment. Constance observes her go, then enters Blair’s cabin herself . . .
The note that sends a wrathful Claire to Blair’s cabin . . .
Next morning the steward discovers Blair stabbed to death. Captain Hammond (Lucas) appoints Bruce to investigate the murder, assisted by Hammond himself and his first officer, Weldon (Vosburgh). But it’s clear from the outset that Hammond believes Claire’s the guilty party, even after radio operator Dayton is murdered . . .
Claire (Aileen Pringle) sneaks away from Blair’s cabin . . .
. . . little knowing that Constance (Dorothy Christy) has been watching her . . .
This is a genial enough mystery movie, with no great style or panache, and with a denouement that owes more to contrivance than logical plotting. Some of the dialogue in the first reel is delivered laboriously and over-affectedly, as if even the most trivial of exchanges bore great portent, but thereafter things pick up a little. Several loose ends remain untied as the finale arrives, but the movie’s so slight that it’s difficult to find sufficient interest to worry too much about this. The sound editing’s dreadful and the cinematography pedestrian at best—this was one where, it seems, Sid Hickox was just going through the motions. Pringle makes an appealing damsel in distress, one who’s been around the block but has retained her integrity, Thomas delivers a sort of sub-William Powell performance as the criminologist mastermind, and Christy is neatly forceful.
Bruce Allan (Jameson Thomas) in action, ratiocinating on all four cylinders.
On Amazon.com: Convicted (1931)