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An enjoyable mystery with Constance Collier stealing the film.
Arthur Hausner14 January 1999
This is a neat little murder mystery/comedy with noted Shakespearean actress Constance Collier absolutely delightful while making her sound film debut. She plays a rich recluse who hadn't left her apartment for twenty years, but does so when her nephew (Ricardo Cortez) and his actress fiancée (Virginia Bruce) are prime suspects in the murder of Bradley Page, with whom Cortez had fought earlier. Collier didn't like the the idea of Cortez marrying a penniless actress, but changes her mind after she meets Bruce, and sets about to solve the murder by setting a trap for the murderer. I loved the banter between Collier and twinkle-eyed Edward Brophy, playing the detective in charge of the investigation. Their comedy and that of her butler, Ivan Simpson had me chuckling throughout. Also a plus in the film were the presence of Betty Furness and Isabel Jewell, both looking young and beautiful. And I felt good about being able to guess who the murderer was from the clues given. The film is worth seeing, especially for murder mystery buffs.

I noticed one problem with the credits: Bradley Page's onscreen name is spelled "Haworth," but when his murder is reported in the newspaper, it is spelled "Hayworth," which is the way it always was pronounced.
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Constance Collier To the Rescue
drednm28 April 2013
Indomitable Constance Collier made her talkie debut at age 57 in this 1935 film for MGM and gets third billing behind Ricardo Cortez and Virginia Bruce. She hadn't made a film since 1922 when she co-starred with Ivor Novello and Gladys Cooper in THE BOHEMIAN GIRL.

Collier's talkie debut starts out slowly, but she takes over the second half of the film when she (a famous recluse) leaves the house to solve a murder that implicates for nephew (Cortez) and his fiancée (Bruce). She's just plain marvelous.

When a sleazy, abusive producer (Bradley Page) gets shot, the cops immediately zero in on the most obvious (and innocent) suspects and ignore all logic. As usual, there are many suspects involved with the dead guy, and everyone had a reason to kill him.

Co-stars include Betty Furness as Page's fiancée, Isabel Jewell as a nightclub singer, Edward Brophy and Paul Hurst as cops, Ivan Simpson as the beleaguered butler, Regis Toomey as a reporter, Arthur Byron as Furness' father, Samuel S. Hinds as the lawyer, Bert Roach as a detective, and Bernard Siegel as Ehrhardt.

Collier is a delight as the imposing dowager who hasn't left the house in 20 years (after her heart was broken). She spends her time playing the organ and playing cribbage with the butler. But when the law seems to be zeroing in on her nephew she takes to the streets, calling for her car to be made ready. The butler answers "but madam, the chauffeur has been dead for years." Collier would continue to appear regularly in films until 1949. Among her notable films are STAGE DOOR, THE PERILS OF PAULINE, ROPE, KITTY, and A DAMSEL IN DISTRESS.
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Enjoyable murder mystery.
houndspirit1 October 2001
Cought the film on TCM last week and found it quite enjoyable. The film seemed well cast and stylishly played. It certainly seemed like an "A" production to me. Constance Collier, in an Edna Mae Oliver type of role, is excellent. I was not familiar with her work and she does have an imposing presence. One problem was with the climax in which a good deal of action seems to go on in the dark. This, to me, became somewhat confusing. I wonder if this was an effect of watching it on the small screen?
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One of the best of the B's
JohnHowardReid25 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
By the extremely humble talkie standards of director George B. Andy Hardy Seitz, this murder mystery is a remarkable achievement. Seitz was well regarded in silent days and was one of less than thirty Hollywood directors (out of several hundred) who made a totally successful transition to sound. He could not only shoot fast, but he could be inventive when he wanted to be (which was not often) and he could always draw at least passable acting from his cast. On same occasions, such as this, he could even elicit superlative performances. As has been noted by other critics, this is easily Regis Toomey's best role of the more than three hundred movies and TV eps in which he appeared. It's also Constance Collier's sound debut. (She appeared in seven silent pictures if you count Intolerance in which she can't be spotted). And what a debut! She has a colorful role and she plays it to the limit. As noted above, only Regis Toomey (!) is more impressive! The rest of the players, led by Ricardo Cortez and Virginia Bruce, provide more than adequate support, but, as noted above, acting honors belong to Toomey and Collier. The movie was produced by none other than Lucien Hubbard, one of my favorites. Money was no object to Hubbard, who kept adding scenes (which he wrote himself), sets and players. That's why this movie – intended as a "B" release – has such a wonderfully rich look about it.
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Enjoyable MGM Programmer
utgard1430 October 2013
Fun murder mystery helped greatly by delightful cast. Ricardo Cortez is the male lead but he's not the real star. That would be masculine Constance Collier, here wearing a bad white wig and looking positively like a drag queen. She sets out to solve the murder so that her nephew Cortez can marry Virginia Bruce (beautiful, as always). Bruce's character is a bit insufferable though. As is usually the case in these types of movies, the supporting cast makes the picture. Great character actors like Edward Brophy, Arthur Byron, Ivan Simpson, and Samuel Hinds. Then there's Regis Toomey. Toomey was a rather static actor I've never been terribly impressed with in other films of his I've seen. Imagine Dick Powell without the personality. However, here Toomey shines and delivers some of the movie's best lines.

It was interesting to see how differently this movie handled some of the procedural aspects of the law. Lots of talk about rights and not having enough evidence to hold someone without arresting them. Often in murder mysteries of the 30s and 40s, the police seem to act largely with impunity, arresting people with little or no evidence and holding them like a conviction was a foregone conclusion.

This is not a classic or anything but if you enjoy murder mysteries from the 30s, I'm sure you'll have a good time with this one. Give it a shot.
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pretty predictable but well-made fare from the mid 1930s
MartinHafer7 November 2006
This is a pretty ordinary mystery movie starring Ricardo Cortez (a Jewish man, by the way, despite his Hispanic name). Cortez is inexplicably in love with a big-headed actress who doesn't seem worth loving. She is just too stuck on herself and mistreats poor Cortez--rejecting his marriage proposal and accepting the proposal of a sleazy cad producer. The problem is she KNOWS this other man is a sleazy cad and yet she STILL insists this dirt-bag won't marry his fiancée but her instead--leaving Cortez all alone (sniff, sniff). All this is in the early setup of the film and I frankly didn't care if this woman actually killed the producer--I was more than happy to see her convicted just because she was annoying and shallow. This part is by far the weakest part of the film since the lady just wasn't all too sympathetic AND you really wanted Cortez to wash his hands of her. However, Cortez is a sap and so he tries to prove his ex-girlfriend didn't kill the guy. What a swell guy!

Now the movie did improve greatly with the integration of Cortez's aunt (Constance Collier) into the plot. This neurotic old character hadn't left her home since her husband's death--decades earlier. However, she finally leaves to investigate who this woman is that Cortez MUST have as his wife. Despite assuming she'll hate the young woman (after all, she reasons, the woman IS an actress!), she believes her when she says she was setup for the murder. And, when this old eccentric gets to work, the movie improves greatly. The character was well-written and Ms. Collier did a bang-up job to give the movie a much-needed sense of humor.

My overall verdict is that this IS a worthwhile film, but not especially memorable except for the dynamite performance of the aunt! This makes is a slightly better than average film in the second half and provides an excellent conclusion.
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