Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Larry O'Brien (Richard Conte) is a producer who becomes fascinated by an old Hollywood mystery, the still-unsolved 1929 murder of silent film director Franklin Farrara. Larry decides to make a film about the murder, and hires an old screenwriter named Vincent St. Clair (Henry Hull of Werewolf of London), who once worked with the victim. When someone takes a shot at Larry, he realizes the killer is still alive and doesn't want even a chance of the truth coming out. Richard Egan is cast as a police lieutenant, and Jim Backus is Larry's agent, Mitch. An uncredited Paul Cavanaugh [he's not even listed in the cast on imdb.com] plays aging actor Roland Paul, who was always one of the suspects, along with Sam Collyer (Fred Clark). William Farnum, Francis X. Bushman [The Phantom Planet], and Joel McCrea play themselves in cameos. The best performance is given by Julia/Julie Adams, who apparently knows more than she's saying and may have some unknown connection to the crime. This movie is of interest primarily because it was directed by William Castle [Strait-Jacket], but even with that distinction it has still been forgotten. The trouble is that it has very little suspense, a dull mystery, and plays like nothing so much as a TV pilot. However, the cast may hold your attention.
Verdict: One mystery that doesn't need solving. **.