Special Investigator (1936)

US / 61 minutes / bw / RKO Dir: Louis King Scr: Louis Stevens, Thomas Lennon, Ferdinand Reyher Story: “Fugitive Road” (1935; New York Herald Tribune) by Erle Stanley Gardner Cine: Edward Cronjager Cast: Richard Dix, Margaret Callahan, Erik Rhodes, Owen Davis Jr, Ray Mayer, Harry Jans, Joseph Sawyer, J. Carrol Naish, Sheila Terry, J.M. Kerrigan, Jed Prouty, Russell Hicks, Boothe Howard, Si Jenks.

Special Investigator - 0 opener

Chicago shyster Bill Fenwick (Dix) has just won his latest case, defending mobster Bennie Gray (Rhodes)—a result that brings him both a reproof from the judge for being as bad as the criminals he defends and a fat check from Bennie—when his kid brother George (Davis, whose performance, despite his billing, lasts mere seconds), an investigator for the DoJ, is gunned down by gangster Eddie Selton (Naish). Selton is wounded in the exchange, but escapes.

Grieving, Bill realizes the error of his ways, telling his mercenary fiancée Judy Taylor (Terry): “I’m not a lawyer, Judy. I’m what crooks call a mouthpiece.” To her dismay he refuses the next mobster case lined up for him by the friendly Bennie—the Joe Costello case—and nixes their engagement; she’s none too worried, especially after he gives her Bennie’s $15,000 check as kiss-off . . . and even more so because she’s already seeing more of Bennie than strictly she oughter.

Bill gives Bennie no hint that he’s decided to Continue reading

Crime Nobody Saw, The (1937)

US / 62 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: Charles Barton Pr: Adolph Zukor Scr: Bertram Millhauser Story: Danger, Men Working (1935 play) by Ellery Queen, Lowell Brentano Cine: Harry Fischbeck Cast: Lew Ayres, Ruth Coleman, Eugene Pallette, Benny Baker, Vivienne Osborne, Colin Tapley, Howard C. Hickman, Robert Emmet O’Connor, Jed Prouty, Hattie McDaniel, Ferdinand Gottschalk, Terry Ray (i.e., Ellen Drew).

Crime Nobody Saw - 2 The deed is done

The dastardly deed is done.

Despite being able to list Ellery Queen (i.e., Frederic Dannay and Manfred B. Lee) as co-author, the stage play upon which this slight filler was based was a flop. Watching the movie, it’s not hard to see why. The plot’s very self-referential—it’s about these three guys, you see, trying to write a mystery play. The intention is obviously comic, yet gags are thin on the ground and the only cast member really capable of raising a smile is the redoubtable Hattie McDaniel; it’s wryly amusing that although, because of the conventions of the time, she had to Continue reading