US / 61 minutes / bw / Chesterfield, Batcheller Dir: Charles Lamont Scr: Charles Belden Cine: M.A. Andersen Cast: Vivian Tobin, Dickie Moore, Cora Sue Collins, Russell Hopton, Harold Huber, Paul Fix, Sarah Edwards, Jamison Thomas, Mary Carr, Robert Elliott, Bryant Washburn, Barbara Bedford, Robert Frazier, Lloyd Ingraham, Broderick O’Farrell, Jane Keckley.
It’s 1928 or 1929. Formerly a celebrated Broadway actress, Lola Weymouth (Tobin) now lives with her milquetoast socialite husband John (Fix) and her baby son Tommy (uncredited at this age). The marriage is troubled by the fact that John is work-shy and the couple are living off whatever of his inheritance his termagant mother Lucille (Edwards) chooses to let them have. John lacks the guts to support his wife against his mother; it’s partly that he hasn’t let go of her apron strings, partly that she hasn’t let go of the purse strings.
Weak-willed John (Paul Fix) can’t face up to his mother (Sarah Edwards).
One night after a row between Lola and Lucille, the young couple leave Tommy in the care of his nurse (uncredited) and go out on the town, meeting up with various of Lola’s quondam Broadway chums. One of these, unfortunately, is a very drunk old flame of Lola’s, Checkers Fraley (Huber). He picks a fight with John, knocks him down, and inadvertently kills him.
Checkers goes off for a long spell in the pen, while a viciously spiteful Continue reading
US / 74 minutes / bw / Liberty, Republic Dir: Lewis D. Collins Pr: M.H. Hoffman Scr: Albert DeMond Story: The Spanish Cape Mystery (1935) by Ellery Queen Cine: Gilbert Warrenton Cast: Helen Twelvetrees, Donald Cook, Berton Churchill, Frank Sheridan, Harry Stubbs, Guy Usher, Huntly Gordon, Jack La Rue, Betty Blythe, Olaf Hytten, Ruth Gillette, Frank Leigh, Barbara Bedford, George Baxter, Katherine Morrow, Arnold Gray, Donald Kerr, Lee Prather, George Cleveland, Arthur Aylesworth, Richard Cramer.
This first screen outing for the doyen of US detectives, Ellery Queen, is better than what I’ve seen of the Ralph Bellamy-starring series that followed a few years later—and one of which, Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941), I describe here—but this doesn’t constitute the highest of praise. It’s a fairly standard B detective mystery of its day, although with the advantage that the screenwriters saw fit not to give us a detective oozing with quirk; the Ellery portrayed here is if anything less quirky than the Ellery depicted in the original novel, who was more along Philo Vance lines. It’s almost as if Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee, the two cousins who together wrote under the Queen byline, took a tip from this movie, because, as the print Ellery evolved, he became more like this one.
Ellery (Cook) and his much older good friend Judge Macklin (Churchill) decide to take a vacation together in California—on Spanish Cape, to be precise, where Macklin has Continue reading