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Rod La Rocque,
Thomas E. Jackson
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Noted stage actor Wylie Thornton (Paul Cavanagh) has plenty of girlfriends, apparently. (Also a monkey friend who likes him a lot.) New co-star, old co-star, estranged wifehe doesn't seem to be playing any of them completely straight, and that's about all that we know for sure during the rather confusing opening portions of this classy if modest B mystery.
Dorothy Mackaill is good as Lola, sister to Anice, one of Wylie's discarded romances; from our first meeting with Lola, we see she is angry with Wylie and frustrated in her attempts to make contact with him.
Natalie Moorhead has only one full scene as Alma Thornton, the wifebut it's a goodie. Alma, too, is fed up with Wylie. She shows up in his room and answers the phone as his "secretary"; she mocks the way he speaks to his female phone callers ("Bye-ee!"); and she speaks to Wylie frankly and with a bite: "Your lips fairly brew honey when they want to. That's how you got me." (His reply: "I wish some of the same could get rid of you.")
Doris Manning (Ruthelma Stevens) is Wylie's new co-star; she's a rich girl and neither her father nor her fiancé have any intention of allowing her to travel to New York with a married actor (of all things!) and will do whatever it takes to prevent her. All in all, in the best murder mystery tradition, there is no shortage of characters who have it in for the cad, Wylie Thornton.
Top-billed C. Aubrey Smith enters the picture around the midway point; he and Sam Hardy are a sort of smart cop/dumb cop pair. (Hardy does all the talking, Smith all the real detecting.) The chimp who lets himself in and out of his cage and has been known to swipe a handgun from the prop room is also a key player in this picture.
A fair amount of comic relief keeps the action relatively light; the murder scene (on a stage darkened except for a candle-lighted birthday cake) is somewhat unique; and the plot's eventual resolution is a bit out of the ordinary, as well. Overall, although the exposition of the first half hour is a bit dense, once this story gets rolling it's a fast-paced show that's very easy to take.
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