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Grandfather is sick and the family and his lawyer gather around waiting for him to die. When he receives a telegram from his disinherited son, Charles, he passes out and a nurse, Sarah, comes to the house to attend to him. His other two sons, Ross and Adolphe, quarrel over an outstanding loan. Later that night, Adolphe is murdered and the police are called. Everyone is lying and has their reasons. A mysterious man is seen on the property before Grondel, the Butler, is killed. When the reporters arrive, they write wild stories as O'Leary looks for the killer with little help from Det. Jackson. Sarah has nothing but wisecracks for O'Leary but does offer some clues to the identity of the murderer. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A little more polished looking than most B-movies, but the pacing is awful.
"While the Patient Slept" is a strange film. Through much of the film, many of the actors say their lines way too quickly and there are few pauses in the conversations. It's as if the director realized that plot was too long for a B-movie (which usually clock in at between 55 and 70 minutes at the most) and told folks to talk very rapidly in order to obtain the 66 minute runtime! And, it is like a "Reader's Digest" condensed version of a movie!
The plot is a pretty standard B-movie whodunnit. While an old rich man is dying, various family members come to attend him. However, his disreputable son (Robert Barrat) is shot and killed during the night and it's up to an amateur detective (Aline MacMahon) who also happens to be the old man's nurse as well as a dopey detective (Guy Kibbee) and his even dopier assistants (Allan Jenkins and Eddie Shubert) to get to the bottom of it.
I have a particular fondness for these sort of murder mysteries and have seen just about every Charlie Chan, Falcon, Saint and Mr. Moto film. However, I must say that "While the Patient Slept" is a very poor one--even if it was made by the premier studio of the day, MGM. It's mostly because of the direction. In addition to most of the folks talking too fast, they often yell, over-emote or talk very loud for practically no reason. The pacing is awful and the performances are among the worst of the actors' careers--and the director is the one to blame. Additionally, the character Jenkins plays is too annoying and one-dimensional--much like the super-annoying detective he played in "Sh! The Octopus". He's meant to be funny...he isn't. Overall, the film comes off as shrill, loud and awful.
Incidentally, it is interesting that the film seems to strongly imply that Eustace is gay. See the film and see if you agree.
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