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

Thursday, July 17, 2014


SUNSET MURDER CASE (aka Sunset Strip Case/1938). Director: Louis J. Gasnier.

Dancer Kathy O'Connor (Sally Rand) is determined to get the man who ordered her cop father's death, and comes up with a rather implausible plan. She will go to Europe, develop a reputation as the Toast of the Continent under the name "Valerie," and come back to the US to work in a night club owned by bad guy Stephani (Paul Sutton), whereupon she will get the goods on him. Two men are vying for her favors: Detective Helton (Reed Hadley), who had worked with her father; and reporter Lou Fleming (Dennis Moore), who has feelings for Kathy but may have to make do with the slightly pixelated singer, Penny Nichols (Kathryn "Sugar" Kane). Sally Rand made quite a few movies before this, including many silents, but Sunset was her last picture. She became more famous as a burlesque performer with a famous fan dance than as an actress. There's a funny scene when Helton registers his disapproval of dancer Kathy without realizing she's the daughter of his partner. Rand is cute and likable, but Dennis Moore [The Fearmakers] makes the biggest impression as Lou, giving a fine performance of charm and humor. Orchestra leader Henry King plays himself. Handsome Hadley made more of an impression as the lead in the classic serial Zorro's Fighting Legion.

Verdict: Easygoing vehicle for Rand with a potpourri of a script. **.

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