There have been a spate of London police murders, the victims always killed by a long knife (which the police know is a sword cane), the murders always taking place in a deserted but ... See full summary »
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There have been a spate of London police murders, the victims always killed by a long knife (which the police know is a sword cane), the murders always taking place in a deserted but successively different part of town, and the police always being notified by the murderer that he will strike beforehand. By his signed notes, the murderer has dubbed himself as X. The police have their first real lead when the latest murder occurs outside the home where the Drayton Diamond was stolen on the same night. The diamond thief is Nick Revel, a suave, confident career thief, and his two accomplices, an insurance clerk named 'Hutch' Hutchinson, and a taxi driver named Joe Palmer. Nick, however, is not Mr. X, but he and his accomplices know they can't pawn the diamond or return the diamond for its insurance money now until Mr. X is caught. When a well known and respected man named Sir Christopher Marche is arrested for the murders on circumstantial evidence, Nick knows the police have the wrong ... Written by
Philip MacDonald's novel was first published in London as "X v. Rex" using his pseudonym, Martin Porlock. It was published in America as "The Mystery of the Dead Police" under his real name. See more »
Well-done mystery/thriller with Robert Montgomery playing a jewel thief suspected of being a police serial killer. The plot adapted by Philip MacDonald from one of his own novels is tightly woven and executed very nicely by director Edgar Selwyn. Selwyn, for a 1934 film, uses lots of flair and style in creating a suspenseful pace and good atmosphere. I particularly liked the way he used his cast - all of whom do excellent jobs. Montgomery is in top form as the "hero" out to find the killer in order to exonerate himself of the heinous killing spree. Aiding him is a love interest played by Elizabeth Allan, a truly lovely actress as the police commissioner's daughter. Henry Stephenson plays her father in that very stiff upper lip fashion he was so accustomed to. Lewis Stone also rounds out the cast playing a police superintendent convinced Montgomery is guilty of the crime of stealing a valuable diamond and killing the bobbies. Forrester Harvey gives an inspired portrayal as a London cabbie in on the jewel heist. He has marvelous comic timing in a more subtle way than just being a buffoon as so typically used in films like this. But it is Montgomery's portrayal that really gives the film its steam and he is as charming as ever. This is one of those rare diamonds one comes across every now and then from the Golden Age of film-making. This is a first-rate mystery with excellent direction, good performances, and an interesting,convincing script.
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