fascinating early-sound crime mystery--slow going at first, but stick with it!
An early-sound crime/mystery (I can't call this a "murder mystery" since it's not really a whodunit), THE COSTELLO CASE starts off slow, first with a virtually silent opening, and then with endless talk in one room about the killing of this Costello, about whom we never really learn very much. Just as you are wanting to turn it off, two minor characters are introduced, characters who at first seem clichéd, but we soon learn are POSING as clichéd characters. Then the film really takes off into territory the average viewer would NEVER expect, winding up with an amazing climax and resolution that is definitely pre-code and with some changes could have been in a 1970's Italian crime film. This film also features profanity in the dialogue (Hell and Damn), an unmarried couple living together, and an ending that the Hays office would have demanded be re-written. Tom Moore is fine as the dedicated and smarter-than-he-seems policeman Mahoney; Wheeler Oakman once again is cast well as an oily crook with a smarmy charm, and we also get to see him falling apart and begging for his life, which is always a treat (see THE MAN FROM GUNTOWN or ESCORT GIRL). And it's always a treat to see Lola Lane, who did a lot of convincing work in z-grade early-sound films, here as a woman once harassed by Oakman, but now having a second chance with a man fate brings her together with. Like many early-sound films, this plays like a stage drama, but I was riveted after a slow first fifteen minutes, and I think that any fan of independent films of the early 1930's should track down a copy of this rare film.
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