Members of a wealthy family start getting threatening letters, and it's not long before the threats turn into reality and family members start getting bumped off. The family lawyer is a ...
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Members of a wealthy family start getting threatening letters, and it's not long before the threats turn into reality and family members start getting bumped off. The family lawyer is a former newspaper reporter, and since the family patriarch owns a newspaper, the lawyer uses his investigative experience and the newspaper's resources to dig into the family history to see if he can uncover the person behind the killings. The evidence he unearths seems to point to one person--his girlfriend. Written by
"Sinner Take all" was based on the mystery novel, "Murder for a Wanton" by Whitman Chambers. The book title makes a little more sense to me than does the movie title. When I first read the title on TCM's schedule I thought it was some sort of morality play. It turns out to be a fairly decent murder story involving the members of a wealthy family being killed one by one. Bruce Cabot of "King Kong" fame is the reporter/would-be lawyer investigating the strange happenings which tend to point a guilty finger at his would-be girlfriend played by Margaret Lindsay. Why Lindsay never reached star status in Hollywood is a good question since she does such an outstanding acting job in this film. The marvelous Charley Grapewin plays the patriarch, a different type role for him. Joseph Calleia plays a role that suits him well as the owner of a casino with apparent mob connections. George Zucco makes the most of his small part and the old cowboy Raymond Hatton has a brief scene as a hotel clerk. Also watch for Dorothy Kilgallen who appears briefly as a reporter. An actress named Eadie Adams appears as Shirley Allen. She so impressed me that I looked up information on her because I had not seen her in a movie before. She had a very short career. Does anyone know the reason? The character who impressed me the least was Capt. Bill Royce played by Edward Pawley. I was pleased that the writers did not make him a stupid, bumbling policeman but rather a thorough, intelligent investigator. Still the performance seemed stilted and the actor appeared bored in his role.
The film was directed by a studio man, Errol Taggart, who at times seemed to copy such movie geniuses as Sergei Eisenstein. By cutting techniques partly developed by Eisenstein he, for example, cuts from a flaming car to a flaming match. Eisenstein always had a symbolic reason for such cutting. There is nothing symbolic that I could see in the cutting used by Taggart. Later, Alfred Hitchcock would wisely use such cutting for metaphoric effect, for example, a train going into a tunnel for sexual consummation.
With better scripting--the intended humor often falls flat--and better directing, this could have been one of the best murder mysteries of the period. I especially liked the way the ending was handled. You will be surprised how the guilty person reacts to being caught. If you enjoy old mystery movies, you should like this one.
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