Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

DRESSED TO KILL

DRESSED TO KILL (1941). Director: Eugene Ford.

Private detective Michael Shayne is on the cusp of marrying his girlfriend, Joanne (Mary Beth Hughes), when murder intervenes and he discovers a couple of corpses at a theatrical (in every sense of the word) dinner party. The producer-host and an actress, both in costume, have been killed by an unknown party. It isn't long before Shayne is forgetting all about his nuptials and is frantically running about trying to solve the murders. Rarely is an actor cast as private eye Michael Shayne who is anything like the character created by novelist Brett Halliday, and homely Lloyd Nolan -- who played the part in several movies -- is no exception. However, miscast though he may be (he makes Shayne come off like a song and dance comedian), he gives an ingratiating performance. Hughes (The Cowboy and the Blonde) doesn't make much of an impression in this as his fiancee, but there are snappy performances from Henry Daniell [The Four Skulls of Jonathan Drake], Mantan Moreland, Erwin Kalser, Milton Parsons [The Monster That Challenged the World], Virginia Brissac, and May Beatty, among others. The mystery plot itself has some clever moments.

Verdict: Acceptable if minor-league Shayne. **1/2. 

2 comments:

Gary R. said...

I think Lloyd Nolan's "Mike Shayne" is actually more interesting than the one in Brett Halliday's books. Nolan is one of my favorite character actors and he definitely made Shayne an entertaining character for the too-brief series of seven films. I hope you enjoyed this one enough that you'd want to check out some of the others. Thanks for the review!

William said...

Thanks for your comment. Although I can't really think of Nolan as Michael Shayne, I think he and the film were both good enough to want to see the others in the series (again) in the future.