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Lila Leighton, the lovely ice ballerina, meets Carl Lang, former ice-show producer, at his New York City penthouse apartment. Lia refuses Lang's offer to star in his new Music Hall Ice Show. Back at the Music Hall, Lila discovers she has left her purse at Lang's apartment and returns there, and is followed by orchestra-leader Don Jordan. There, they discover that Carl has been stabbed to death. Gracie, Lila's understudy, has also followed them there and helps them remove traces of Lila's visit. They also find a pair of kid-gloves, and the laundry mark leads Don to Rita Morgan, wealthy socialite, wife of George Morgan, and Rita turns out to be a former ice-skating star for Carl Lang's Music Hall shows. Rita admits to being in Lang's apartment but says he was in excellent health when she left, and says she passed no one except a blind man. Don and Lila discover that the 'blind man' was really Rita's husband, George Morgan, who claims he used the disguise in order to trail and protect ... Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
Discreet, dead men never are, they talk, and I'm going to listen.
Murder In The Music Hall (AKA Midnight Melody) comes out of that bastion of the B movie special, Republic Pictures. It's directed by John English (many Gene Autry Oaters) and the screenplay is adapted from an original story written by Arnold Phillips & Maria Matray. It's stars Vera Hrubá Ralston (Hoodlum Empire/The Fighting Kentuckian), William Marshall (Belle of the Yukon/Adventures of Captain Fabian), Helen Walker (Nightmare Alley/Brewster's Millions) and Nancy Kelly (Jesse James/Stanley and Livingstone).
A smashing little murder mystery musical picture that positively oozes old fashioned values. Tho made in the mid 1940s, this very much feels like a 1930s production, which in all honesty is no bad thing at all. With the dramatic moments involving crime and clues accompanied by loud bursts of music (Walter Scharf), and dialogue such as "what the blue blazes is going on," it has all the necessary ingredients to cater for the classic movie fan. The story is a solid one too. A dastardly stab in the back murder of an ice show producer sees the Rockette type ice dancers of a popular Music Hall show become suspects. As the police start to sniff around, Lila & Don (Ralston & Marshall respectively) do their own amateur sleuthing. With only a glove clue to go on, the need to find a blind man seen in the vicinity of the crime becomes critical.
It's here where the film then ups its drama. With one darkened room meeting between our intrepid sleuths and a blind man being memorably noirish. Up till then it had blended snazzy musical ice dance routines with bubbling under the surface intrigue. At first it's an odd mix, one where after the first blast of jauntiness one wonders if it will be possible to accept the upcoming dramatics, but it does work, in a sort of lulling us into a false sense of security type manoeuvre. Besides which, the numbers and choreography are pleasing on the eye, particularly when involving Ralston, a real life figure skater for her home country of Czechoslovakia. And to cap it all off we got some decent red herrings and the final reveal is not at all insulting. The cast are safe and without histrionic ham, with the beautiful Kelly the standout performer. While English knits it all together in a professional manner.
An enjoyable multi genre splicer breaking free from its budget restrictions with much success. 7/10
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