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Richard Grant is a lawyer who believes that murder under certain circumstances is justifiable. Richard's daughter, Barbara, takes her dad to a dinner party hosted by Richard's old friend, wealthy playboy, Gordon Rich. Gordon tells Richard that he and Barbara plan to marry. Richard threatens Gordon's life if he marries Barbara. Richard is unaware that Barbara has no plans to marry Gordon, and she's in love with Tommy Osgood. Richard enraged of the thought of Barbara marrying Gordon goes into Gordon's room, undetected, and kills him...Has Richard committed the perfect crime? Written by
Offbeat little programmer that plays like a whodunit, but without the mystery. We know from the outset who killed the bounder Gordon Rich (Mowbray). The fun is in watching the narrative unfold like a Charlie Chan, except it's the killer, of all people, who assembles the "suspects" and gathers the clues. In that respect, it's an interesting variation on the standard whodunit of the time.
Watch for cult actress Kay Francis as the dark haired Marjorie. With her distinctive looks and strong personality, I can see why Francis has remained a favorite with old movie fans. Also, there's the lovely Madge Evans as the winsome daughter. Too bad she's become so obscure given her obvious talents. And at least the notorious Lionel Barrymore, in the lead, hams it up less than usual.
A kind of philosophical question is posed in the subtext. That is, is murder ever justifiable. Certainly, getting rid of the unprincipled Gordon Rich, who's ruined the lives of many young women, poses the question sharply. At the same time, the movie responds to the issue in an interesting and unexpected way. All in all, the movie is dated in many respects, but is still worth catching up with.
(In passingcatch the primitive sound effect of thunder that sounds like someone is snapping a Kevlar tarp! I expect in 1931, the studios were still perfecting their sound effects.)
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