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

Thursday, September 6, 2018

TIME TO KILL

Ethel Griffies
TIME TO KILL (1942). Director: Herbert I. Leeds.

Private eye Michael Shayne (jauntily played by Lloyd Nolan) is called in by a termagant named Mrs. Murdock (Ethel Griffies of Dead Men Tell) to investigate the disappearance of a very rare coin, the Brasher Doubloon. The old lady is convinced that the coin was stolen by her daughter-in-law, singer Linda Conquest (Doris Merrick of Untamed Women), whose maiden name Mrs. Murdock wryly notes. Other members of the strange household include Mrs. Murdock's son, Leslie (James Seay of The Strange Mrs. Crane) and her very nervous secretary, Myrle (Heather Angel). Looking for both the coin and Linda, Shayne encounters club owner Alexander Morney (Morris Ankrum), his flirtatious wife, Lois (Sheila Bromley), and her  boyfriend, Lou (Ralph Byrd in an atypical role), not to mention assorted cops, crooks, and coin dealers, some of whom are murdered. Time to Kill  was actually adapted from Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe novel "The High Window" as an entry in Nolan's popular Michael Shayne series. but it's rather flat and mediocre. The next version of the novel, which appropriately retained Marlowe as the main character, was the far superior Brasher Doubloon with George Montgomery. The performances are all good, with Griffies a stand-out, and Phyllis Kennedy makes an amusing impression as a secretary whose boss is murdered and who is pinning her hopes for a date on Shayne.

Verdict: Never substitute Brett Halliday's Michael Shayne for Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe. **. 

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