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

Thursday, June 16, 2011


MURDER AT MIDNIGHT (1931). Director: Frank R. Strayer.

Playing a rather elaborate game of charades, party host Kennedy (Kenneth Thomson) shoots his male secretary (Robert Ellis) and discovers to his horror that the blanks in the gun were replaced with real bullets. When Kennedy later turns up dead, people assume he killed himself out of guilt. But old Aunt Julia (a vivid Clara Blandick) suspects the truth, and importunes oafish Inspector Taylor (Robert Elliott) to get cracking, as Kennedy's widow Esme (Aileen Pringle) wrings her hands. This is one of those very creaky old mysteries that cries out for a musical score and which you'll probably forget the minute it's over, although it does have a suspenseful climax and a clever bit employing a phone as a murder weapon.

Verdict: You might want to play charades instead but this does have a moment or two. **1/2.

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