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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Matt Moore steals Warner Oland's moustache

Author: F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from Minffordd, North Wales
6 August 2008

'The Breaking Point' is a great title for a suspense movie; unfortunately, this particular movie isn't a suspenser, and it's not even an especially good movie.

Matt Moore, sporting dapper clothes and an annoying little moustache (I think he stole it from Warner Oland), has something or other to do with a murder in Wyoming ... but he can't say precisely what, because shortly afterward he conveniently develops amnesia. (Perhaps a bit TOO conveniently.) He heads for points east, and lands up in the care of a kindly physician who bears the unfortunate name David Livingstone. (I kept waiting for one of the other characters to say 'Doctor Livingstone, I presume.') Dr Livingstone is dating the winsome Patsy Ruth Miller, so Moore shows his ingratitude by being attracted to her as well. At this point, the movie feels more like soap opera than whodunnit.

Ten years after the murder, along comes a newspaper reporter named Bassett, who is a real bloodhound. Bassett by name and basset by nature, this dirty Bassett starts nosey-parkering into Moore's past, trying to tie him to the unsolved crime.

Nita Naldi, playing the reason for the murder -- a crime of passion, of course -- sports a truly weird chignon coiffure, along with elaborate make-up and surprisingly thick eyebrows. Annoyingly, her character is lumbered in the intertitles with the surname "Carlysle": why couldn't it be spelt Carlisle or (even better) Carlyle? I found myself pondering mysteries like this, because the 'mystery' elements in this movie aren't very gripping. I also found myself thinking that Naldi's eyebrows ought to elope with Moore's moustache, in a menage a trois.

'The Breaking Point' has very little suspense, and too much mystery in the sense of being baffling rather than being a whodunnit. There are actually a few good noir touches here, two decades before the film-noir genre was formalised. But, apart from the superb photography by James Wong Howe, and some decent acting by Patsy Ruth Miller (whom I met once), I found little to captivate me. Director Herbert Brenon always did his best work in stories with fantasy elements or showbiz glitz, and this movie has neither. I rate this one just 4 out of 10.

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