A man with an affinity for trouble meets a girl in distress in a nightclub. She becomes involved in the murder of a Spanish dancer and both of them become major suspects. The couple, ...
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A man with an affinity for trouble meets a girl in distress in a nightclub. She becomes involved in the murder of a Spanish dancer and both of them become major suspects. The couple, eluding the police up, down and all around in Chinatown, succeed in capturing the dancer's partner, who confesses his guilt. Written by
Les Adams <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"Half Past Midnight" is an amusement-murder mystery, with the emphasis on amusement. It's not a noir. It's not an outright laugh-out-loud comedy.
The crime part of the plot is quite thin. It serves mainly as a string to which to attach the cast's amusing interactions. These include Joe Sawyer as cop trying to restrain old pal and nemesis Kent Taylor from finding (or making) trouble in Los Angeles. Then there is Kent Taylor trying to make time with Peggy Knudsen, who is accused of murder. There is amusing rivalry between cop Walter Sande and Sawyer. Mabel Paige is a former dancer who regales Knudsen with old stories endlessly. Most everything is played for laughs, including a scene in which Sande attempts to recreate a murder using Willie Best as the stand-in. And I should not forget reaching for laughs with a Chinatown pursuit of Sande for Knudsen and Taylor. Martin Kosleck plays it straight as does a man with some letters written by Knudsen's sister that she's trying to recover by paying blackmail.
The likable cast is more than capable to handle this sort of thing, but the lack of story did tempt me to hit the fast-forward button. The movie felt that slow after awhile. Too many digressions and halts. I stayed the course because it was only 69 minutes.
I will look for Ms. Knudsen in some of her earlier noir roles. As her bio says, she comes across as confident, bright and attractive.
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