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

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Warren William and Gail Patrick
WIVES UNDER SUSPICION (1938). Director: James Whale.

James Stowell (Warren William) is a tough district attorney who rarely sees any side but his own. Ambitious and dedicated, he generally neglects his lovely wife, Lucy (Gail Patrick), going so far as to cancel a vacation at the last minute so that he can prosecute Dr. MacAllen (Ralph Morgan), who has murdered his wife. Stowell is convinced that the murder was premeditated while MacAllen's attorney argues that it was a sudden crime of passion. Stowell is unconvinced, until he thinks that Lucy is carrying on with her handsome friend, Phil (William Lundigan) ... The performances are zesty enough to keep this rather creaky old melodrama entertaining, although the script is fairly obvious and generally superficial. Ralph Morgan [Sleep, My Love] has a great scene when he confesses to Stowell, and the pic benefits from two comic performances from Cecil Cunningham [Daughter of Shanghai] as Stowell's secretary, "Sharpy," and Lillian Yarbo [Presenting Lily Mars] as the maid Creola, although the character is handled in the usual racist fashion of the period. Constance Moore is Phil's girlfriend, Elizabeth, and Milburn Stone is Stowell's assistant. This is a remake of the 1933 A Kiss Before the Mirror, which was also directed by James Whale and is considered to be superior.

Verdict: William performs with his usual flair and the others are fine. **1/2.

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