Murder on the Campus (1933)

vt On the Stroke of Nine
US / 73 minutes / bw / Chesterfield Dir: Richard Thorpe Pr: George R. Batcheller Scr: Andrew Moses Story: The Campanile Murders (1933) by Whitman Chambers Cine: M.A. Andersen Cast: Shirley Grey, Charles Starrett, J. Farrell MacDonald, Ruth Hall, Dewey Robinson, Maurice Black, Edward Van Sloan, Tane Keckley (i.e., Jane Keckley), Richard Catlett, Harry Bowen, Al Bridge, Harrison Greene, Henry Hall, Frank LaRue.

Lillian Voyne (Grey) is working her way through college by singing at a nightclub, the Lido. One night she hitches a lift from crime reporter Bill Bartlett (Starrett) of the Times–Star, who’s sweet on her, to go meet Malcolm “Mal” Jannings, chime-ringer for the bells in the campanile on the local college campus. Around about the time she’s supposed to meet the man, a shot rings out; when Police Captain Ed Kyne (MacDonald) and Detective Sergeant Charlie Lorrimer (Robinson) explore the campanile, with Bill in tow, they find Jannings shot dead but no sign of the killer. Yet Bill can testify to the fact that no one has left the campanile. It seems like an impossible murder . . .

Charles Starrett as Bill and Shirley Grey as Lillian

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Inside Information (1934)

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Not your average Tarzan movie!
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US / 49 minutes / bw / Consolidated, Stage & Screen Dir: Robert F. Hill Pr: Bert Sternbach, Albert Herman Scr: Bob Lively, Betty Laidlaw Story: Bert Ennis, Victor Potel Cine: George Meehan Cast: Rex Lease, Marion Shilling, Philo McCollough, Charles King, Henry Hall, Robert McKenzie, Victor Potel, Jean Porter, Henry Roquemore, Jimmy Aubrey, Robert F. Hill, Charles Harper, Tarzan the Police Dog.

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The star of this short feature is the dog Tarzan. Inside Information was the first of the three Melodramatic Dog Features, each starring Tarzan, to be produced by the Beyond Poverty Row studio Consolidated Pictures. The other two were Million Dollar Haul (1935) and Captured in Chinatown (1935); in the latter, Marion Shilling and Philo McCollough (there spelled McCullough) would once more be his costars.

Lloyd Wilson (Lease) has persuaded Police Chief Gallagher (director Hill) to ask the Police Commissioner (Roquemore) for a special medal for Lloyd’s dog Tarzan (self). The Commissioner’s dubious, so Lloyd tells the tale of Tarzan’s intelligence and valor . . .

Lloyd informs the Commissioner that he’s Assistant Cashier at the City Investment Co. . . . although later in the extended flashback that makes up almost the entirety of the movie it seems Continue reading

Woman Unafraid (1934)

US / 58 minutes / bw / Goldsmith Dir: William J. Cowan (i.e., William J. Cowen) Pr: Ken Goldsmith, George E. Kann Scr: Mary E. McCarthy Cine: Gilbert Warrenton Cast: Lucile Gleason, Skeets Gallagher, Lona Andre, Warren Hymer, Barbara Weeks, Laura Treadwell, Ruth Clifford, Eddie Phillips, Jason Robards Sr., Erin La Bissoniere, Franklin Parker, Baby Waring, Richard Elliott, Julie Kingdon, Joyce Coad, Florence Wix, George Guhl, Henry Hall, James T. Mack.

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It wasn’t all that often that 1930s crime dramas got the balance between drama and humor right—usually you wish they’d just skipped the cringeworthy humor and had a shorter movie—but sometimes they managed to integrate the two elements perfectly. Some of the lines here are laugh-out-loud funny; elsewhere there are moments of genuine, non-bathetic (well, only a bit bathetic) poignancy; and there’s a likeable, entirely admirable heroine to bind everything together.

Augusta Winthrop (Gleason) is a middle-aged cop with a big heart: she’s a universal aunt. A principal duty of hers is to attend the dancehouse run by Tom Brady (Elliott) to make sure none of the dancers are getting so frisky as to commit public indecency, and also of course to check that none of the taxi dancers are offering more than dances. There are flies in her ointment, not least that Mrs. Eleanor Worthington (Treadwell), the self-appointed President of the Girls’ Protective League, has a habit of calling by on the lookout for “outrages.” Ironically, another problem for Augusta is that Eleanor’s nephew, Anthony Desmond (Gallagher), arrives at the club most nights in a skunklike state—a condition in which his hands become . . . venturesome. As one of the taxi dancers remarks of his latest performance on the dancefloor, “That guy ought to be a chiropractor.”

Tonight Augusta has been Continue reading

Haunted House (1940)

US / 69 minutes / bw / Monogram Dir: Robert McGowan Scr: Dorothy Reid (i.e., Dorothy Davenport) Story: Jack Leonard, Monty Collins Cine: Harry Neumann Cast: Marcia Mae Jones, Jackie Moran, George Cleveland, Christian Rub, Henry Hall, John St. Polis, Clarence Wilson, Mary Carr, Jessie Arnold, Hooper Atchley, Marcelle Ray, Buddy Swann, Henry Roquemore, Robert Dudley.

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Jimmie Atkins (Moran) is office boy at the Brownsville Bugle. All Brownsville—evidently a small town in the middle of nowhere—is agog over the trial of Olaf Jensen (Rub) for the murder of his employer, farmer Mary Blake. Jimmie, though, is a friend of Olaf’s and decides to prove the man didn’t do it. In this he’s assisted by pretty Mildred “Millie” Henshaw (Jones), visiting niece of Continue reading

Midnight Warning (1932)

vt Eyes of Mystery
US / 63 minutes / bw / Mayfair Dir: Spencer Gordon Bennett (i.e., Spencer Gordon Bennet) Pr: George W. Weeks Scr: John Thomas Neville Story: Norman Battle Cine: Jules Cronjager Cast: William Boyd, Claudia Dell, Huntley Gordon, John Harron, Hooper Atchley, Lloyd Whitlock, Phillips Smalley, Lloyd Ingraham, Henry Hall, Lon Poff.

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In town for a medical convention, prominent New York nerve specialist Dr. Steven “Steve” Walcott (Atchley) stays at the Clarendon Arms. He’s visited in Apartment A there by his old friend William “Bill” Cornish (Boyd), a senior investigator in some official capacity (it’s never spelled out exactly what). Cornish has discovered a charred human earbone in the room’s fireplace. While they’re chatting about this curio and other matters, Walcott stands at the window trying out a pair of astonishing spectacles Cornish owns ‑‑ these optical marvels have the power of binoculars!

Suddenly he collapses in a heap. Cornish phones for the hotel management, who Continue reading