A hospital nurse is recruited by the police to watch a household where a suspicious death has occurred.A hospital nurse is recruited by the police to watch a household where a suspicious death has occurred.A hospital nurse is recruited by the police to watch a household where a suspicious death has occurred.
As before, we have Ms. Rinehart's feisty "little old lady," Elizabeth Patterson as Juliet Mitchell, accompanied by a comic companion (in this case Nurse Adams played by Joan Blondell) and a host of potential suspects in her mysterious (and enormous) old house, but as film making technique has progressed in only a few years of sound (and Ms. Rinehart knew when to vary a successful template), this time we have a fun twist in casting the young comedienne as the lead and assistant to the fresh faced detective (George Brent as Inspector Patten on his "first case"), and the old lady as one of the potential suspects, thought to pass off a suicide as murder for the insurance money . . . or was it murder after all?
Blondell is at her youthful best, and the studio cast is crammed full of first class talent on their way up from C. Henry Gordon as Dr. Stuart to the briefest of shots of a young Walter Brennan as a Police Dispatcher at the beginning.
Modern action buffs may sniff that the atmospheric tale seems at times to be more about the enormous, detailed sets than the mystery itself, with unidentified characters sneaking in and up long back staircases, women screaming and the odd comic set piece (is the dog a clue?), but director Lloyd Bacon (the silent film actor turned director who had shepherded Cole Porter's 50 MILLION FRENCHMAN to the screen the year before with members of the Broadway cast but without Porter's songs and would mount the classic 42ND STREET *with* songs the next year, continuing to work into the 1950's!) keeps the action spinning for the barely hour (six minutes over) running time.
Bask in the details of life in the early depression era (before the details of life outside got too depressing) and have the good time this nicely layered film offers, seeing if you can keep the suspects and motivations straight even when murder is committed right in front of your eyes - and remember "it ain't over 'till it's over," and that isn't when it first appears!
- Mar 15, 2010