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
US / 60 minutes / bw / Columbia Dir: D. Ross Lederman Scr: Harold Shumate Story: Charles R. Condon Cine: Al Seigler (i.e., Allen G. Siegler) Cast: Ralph Bellamy, Shirley Grey, Gail Patrick, Kane Richmond, Bradley Page, Vincent Sherman, Clifford Jones (i.e., Phillip Trent), Arthur Rankin, Lucien Prival, Ward Bond, Helen Eby-Rock, Stephen Chase, Edward Keane.
While most audiences’ default attitude toward the offerings of Poverty Row studios like Monogram and PRC is one of mockery, however often we might find ourselves pleasantly surprised by the actuality, it’s worth recalling that some of the contemporaneous B-feature output from the major studios wasn’t so very much better.
Ralph Bellamy as Trent; might this be his last case?
An instance in point is The Crime of Helen Stanley, where it’s visible on-screen that the production had a far bigger budget to play with than might a Monogram or PRC equivalent yet the churned-out nature of the resulting movie is practically palpable. There’s no sense at any point that anyone involved in this production had any love for or pride in what they were doing, with the possible exception of Phillip Trent as studio gofer Larry King—and, ironically, Trent chose to appear here under a pseudonym, Clifford Jones.
Gail Patrick as Helen
Plenty of people have good reason to loathe Hollywood star Helen Stanley (Patrick), so when she’s gunned down on set Continue reading
US / 67 minutes / bw / Chesterfield, First Division Dir: Charles Lamont Pr: George R. Batcheller Scr: Ewart Adamson Cine: M.A. Andersen Cast: Shirley Grey, Sidney Blackmer, Noel Madison, Mathew Betz, Torben Meyer, May Beatty, Frank LaRue, Ida Darling, Robert Adair, Edward Martindel, John Dilson, Don Brodie, Lew Davis.
In New York, expert counterfeiter Gilda Gillespie (Grey) reads a line in a book that causes her to rethink her life: “It takes a tough guy to go straight.” She decides to give up her criminal career and get a—gasp!—job. But, when she goes to offer her resignation to the debonair artist-manqué head of the gang she belongs to, Hal Brewster (Madison), he goads her into doing One Last Job: robbing the safe of gem-collector Chester Madison (Martindel), a task that has defeated the ingenuity of Brewster’s henchmen, even though he counts among them genius cracksman Harry Sims (Davis).
Hal Brewster (Noel Madison) wheedles with Gilda (Shirley Grey).
Gilda gets the gems using a clever scam involving Continue reading
US / 66 minutes / bw / Paramount Dir: Alexander Hall, George Somnes Pr: B.P. Schulberg Scr: P.J. Wolfson, Allen Rivkin, Manuel Seff Story: Jules Furthman Cine: Karl Struss Cast: James Dunn, Gloria Stuart, Shirley Grey, David Manners, William Harrigan, Vince Barnett, Johnny Hines, Jack La Rue, Kitty Kelly, Edward Gargan, James Burke, Clarence Wilson, Gertrude Short, Effie Ellsler, Hal Price.
Dr. Daniel “Dan” French (Dunn) spends his leisure time cutting a swath through the nurses of the police hospital of which he is head. His current paramour, Nurse Irene Blaine (Grey), is less than amused when he falls and falls hard for a young woman brought in delirious and on the point of death after a savage beating, Mary Dolan (Stuart).
Dan throws all his medical skills and many sleepless hours into the effort to keep Mary alive and effect a full recovery. Naturally he succeeds, and the two fall in love—much to Irene’s chagrin. She responds by reporting to the Superintendent of Hospitals, Walter C. Horton (Wilson), that Mary is well enough to leave and is being kept longer in the hospital solely because she’s Dan’s fancy lady . . .
. . . which is of course largely true. What Irene doesn’t know is that Dan’s other motive is to protect Mary from the hoodlum who Continue reading