A detective who has "four hours to kill" before delivering his prisoner, an escaped killer, spends the time in the lobby of a Broadway theater where a musical is playing. The film focuses ...
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A detective who has "four hours to kill" before delivering his prisoner, an escaped killer, spends the time in the lobby of a Broadway theater where a musical is playing. The film focuses on the relationship between the two men, and also between various characters in the theater audience, staff and cast. Written by
We hear the musical's score, provided by Paramount team Robin & Rainger, but the plot unfolds out in the lobby, among the staircases, lavatories, phone booths, and side alleys of the theatre, and we never do see a dot of the musical staging. This should be enough of an inducement for those who love old movies, but can't abide old musicals. The nice ingenue couple (singer Joe Morrison, without a song, and pretty Helen Mack, quivering voice intact) is up against a bitter blonde (Dorothy Tree), while the manager (hey, that's Clarence from IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE!) is trying to keep his lobby in working order. Roscoe Karns serves up marvelous concern for his expectant father routine, talk about dating a concept! Gertrude Michael, pulling off soft & alluring while retaining her sophisticate aplomb is matched with a remarkable Ray Milland, here giving you a nice example of future rotter qualities. Gertrude happens to wear one heck of a smart hat, though it's the careless loss of her diamond pin that causes such concern. Watch for silent lady Olive Tell as an older woman married to a much younger man, but the most interesting line involves escaped thug Richard Barthelmess and the relationship he develops while killing four hours with his captor, well-played by Charles C. Wilson (cast in a much larger role than usual.) Indeed, there might be a much higher interest in Barthelmess' talkie period if FOUR HOURS TO KILL were more readily available for viewing, for he not only serves as a compelling center for this film, but turns in one of his most subdued, thoughtful, and unexpectedly detailed performances. Blending seemingly mundane details with the lives of interesting folks portrayed by good performers, FOUR HOURS TO KILL provides enough content, twists, and surprises to keep any mystery fan entertained. You will be pleasantly surprised.
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