Two innocent men are wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The fiance of one of them convinces a police detective of their innocence, and together they try to find the real ... See full summary »
Nora and her uncle get railroaded into spending the night at a broken-down hotel in Canada. After Nora falls for the handsome owner, she convinces her uncle to invest in the inn and ... See full summary »
After the war, Matt Gordon returns to Singapore to retrieve a fortune in smuggled pearls. Arrived, he reminisces in flashback about his prewar fiancée, alluring Linda, and her disappearance... See full summary »
Philip Marlowe gets involved when limp-wristed and snidely Leslie Murdock steals a rare doubloon from his mother to give to a newsreel photographer in exchange for film that is being used ... See full summary »
On Chicago's South Side reporter Ed Ames finds the body of a dead girl. Her address book leads to a host of names of men frightened by her death but claiming never to have known her. Ames comes to know quite a lot, dangerously so.
A young bride's marital bliss is replaced by shades of suspicion when she suspects that her husband is trying to starve his young son to death in order to claim an inheritance the boy is ... See full summary »
A young city girl from a poor family is invited to spend the summer at a camp for girls from wealthy families. At first made fun of and ridiculed because of her background, she determines ... See full summary »
An oddball Universal "A" and possible "proto-noir"
A Parisian swindler (Basil Rathbone) sentenced to Devil's Island eventually escapes to find his wife (Goldwyn Edsel Sigrid Gurie) has fallen in love with another man (Robert Cummings)...
The year 1939 is considered a high water mark in Golden Age Hollywood's studio era but RIO is a movie I doubt we'll hear much about in the future (godknows, I never did in the past). It's an odd-ball Universal "A" with a "name" cast (Basil Rathbone, Victor McLaglen, Robert Cummings, Leo Carillo, Billy Gilbert, and, at the time, Sigrid Gurie) and probably a "programmer" (a movie shown as the bottom half of a double-bill in big theaters and by itself in smaller venues) that came and went rather quickly. The IMDb labels it "film noir" but it's not -not that I could see, anyway. If anything, it's quite possibly a "proto-noir" but that's only because of the director, German émigré John Brahm (THE LODGER, HANGOVER SQUARE, THE LOCKET) and the fact the protagonist is an "anti-hero", something unusual for movies in 1939. Rathbone's the star -it's his adventures we're following- and being France's answer to Bernie Madoff and a cold-blooded murderer made him no less likable. Basil was right at home as a French fancy pants but making with the beefcake was pushing it a bit, especially when stripped to the waist on a chain gang or making a daring escape through the swamps. The setting was quite ambitious (Paris, Devil's Island, various nightclubs, the South American jungle, Rio during Carnivale) and nicely realized, considering, but those four songs were there, no doubt, to pad it out -or promote Sigrid Gurie, who warbled three of them (which was two too many if you ask me). Siggie was launched the year before by Samuel Goldwyn as "The Norwegian Garbo" when he starred her in THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO and if her talents had been more than modest, it probably wouldn't have mattered when the press later found out she was born in Brooklyn -but it did and she faded fairly quickly. I'd give it a "recommended if it's not going out of your way" -provided it ever pops up anywhere.
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