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

Thursday, April 21, 2011


LARCENY IN HER HEART (1946). Director: Sam Newfield.

Burton Stallings (Gordon Richards) comes to Michael Shayne (Hugh Beaumont) to ask the P.I. to find his missing step-daughter, Helen (Marie Hannon). Not much later the very same gal shows up at Mike's office dead drunk -- and then just dead, when she's strangled by an unknown intruder. [Talk about hard-boiled -- even Phyllis, Mike's secretary, doesn't express any remorse for the dead girl.] Shayne then asks his friend, reporter Tim Rourke (Paul Bryar) to help him remove the body from the crime scene [old private eye books and movies rarely dealt with such matters as trace evidence]! Shayne eventually winds up impersonating a dipsomaniac so he can be admitted to a private sanitarium where he suspects shady goings-on connected to the case. Larceny in Her Heart not only captures the edgy Shayne character fairly well, but also the flavor of Brett Halliday's novels. The problem with the movie is that Newfield's direction completely lacks style and panache, making the whole project unfortunately third-rate. The script also employs that old cliche of people hiring private detectives even when they've got a lot to hide and in all likelihood would not want anyone prying into their affairs. There are interesting aspects to the plot, however. This is the second film featuring Hugh Beaumont as Shayne, following Murder is My Business.

Verdict: Mostly for Shayne fans. **1/2.

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