The Lady in Scarlet (1935) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
10 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
Witty little who-done-it
pdutram17 September 2006
Who killed Albert J. Sayre? Another witty gem from Chesterfield. The dialog between sleuth Reginald Denny and his "secretary" Patricia Farr (who died at age 35) is every bit as good as that between Nick and Nora Charles in "The Thin Man" series. They certainly have an interesting relationship. Unfortunately, Ms Farr looks nothing like Myrna Loy. Sayre's daughter, Julia, however, is played by the very beautiful Dorothy Revier. Lew Kelly does his slightly dimwitted slow burn as Police Inspector Trainey. There are plenty of suspects. It's a well-kept secret who done it right up to the end. You'll just have to guess.
14 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Hell Hath no Fury
Hitchcoc25 October 2007
Pretty decent presentation of a man who sets up his daughter for failure and poverty because he doesn't like her choice in men. Unfortunately, he meets his demise and that launches most of the plot. A couple of Nick and Nora type detectives get into the act at the behest of the young wife of the man. It turns out she really loves the old jerk and wants to see justice done. Many are dragged into the fray, but, of course, the facts will set you free. This is a fun movie because of the byplay between the two private detectives. There are lots of conflicting clues and some surprises. I have seen many of these types of films and have to admit that this one isn't half bad. It has a little bit of sexual tension which works pretty well.
9 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Reginald Denny plays detective in a good mystery
dbborroughs19 January 2008
Reginald Denny stars a a detective who gets involved with the murder of an antique dealer.

For the most part this is a by the book murder mystery with several interesting twists in it. The plot basically is that a wealthy antique dealer is suspicious that his wife is having an affair. People are watching the house and the husband appears to be involved in crooked dealings. The wife while out with her lover notices an old friend and semi famous detective at the bar. The lover leaves and the wife talks to the detective whom she talks into taking her home. Once there they find the husband dead and a very twisty, and not entirely fair, murder investigation is set in motion.

Denny is as always a joy to behold and his interplay with his girl Friday is funny, if not rather cruel. Frankly if it wasn't clear they loved each other it would be abusive.

A friend watched most of this with me and sat there in disbelief at the creakiness of it and of the bad acting. But this is an independent programmer that was made fast and cheap so that fact it is of any quality is usually a plus. Its not as bad as she made it out to be, and I don't think she hated it, she just enjoyed the camp value of it all.

I liked it, but I didn't love it. Its a movie that sort of is unexceptional in anyway, and so just sort of is. Its a pleasant time killer and nothing more. In answer to Lucy's question, yes at some point I will watch this again, if only to see what I missed plot wise since the clues appear to all be there even if not clearly....
9 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Fox Takes a Fling on Poverty Row
JohnHowardReid14 June 2008
Universal was the only major Hollywood studio to have regular dealings with Poverty Row, so it comes as something of a surprise to see a 20th Century-Fox package wrapped up in the mantle of Chesterfield producer, George R. Batcheller. Admittedly, by Mr Batcheller's extremely sparse expenditure norms, the budget for this one is somewhat superior, but nonetheless the witty script by Fox's ace writing team of Robert Ellis and Helen Logan is not all that well served by plodding Reginald Denny (at least he plays the role straight) as the egomaniac detective and most of the second-string support players. Thomas, Bush, Murray and Kelly are especially dull in key roles, but fortunately the girls are okay. In fact, Patricia Farr (part of the Fox package) is quite winning as the put-upon secretary (even though she is forced to wear the same drab outfit throughout the entire movie). As for the solution of the mystery, this is a bit of a let-down, although it will come as no surprise to most fans. The real killer is Charles Lamont's scrupulously unexciting direction.
7 out of 8 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Pretty good, considering
jonfrum200030 November 2010
For the genre and the time, this is a pretty good murder mystery. Other reviewers have noted the similarity to the Thin Man Nick and Nora roles. I found the couple in this movie to be many rungs down on the ladder from Nick and Nora. The couple are husband and wife, and she's not a detective - she's his secretary. Unfortunately, the faux battling between the couple is less than playful to modern eyes - he shoves her from behind, taps her drink into her face, takes a slap at her body, and constantly refers to her in explicitly belittling terms. Yes, we're supposed to understand that it's 'banter,' but the writing took it to far - unlike the Thin Man, which is always played in an obviously affectionate manner. Here, the last words out of his mouth are "Come on, stupid." Not nice at all.

Having said that, the movie works fairly well. The detective is smarter than the police inspector, but the inspector is not a clown - he's just one acceptable step behind. The wife/sidekick is given some stilted lines - they just didn't get the Nora Charles role right here. There are multiple suspects, and attractive women. For fans of the genre, it's definitely worth watching, though you may cringe at some of the husband's 'playfulness,' as I did. There's a fine line between playful and cruel, evidently.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Poor Dorothy Revier in a thankless part
kidboots23 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Dorothy Revier never seemed to play anything other than flappers or (when they were passe) sultry femme fatales. Like co-star Claudia Dell, who in 1932 was supporting Tom Mix and Tony, Dorothy ended up supporting cowboy star Buck Jones (in "The Cowboy and the Kid" (1936)) but, also, like Claudia she was fun to have around.

Albert Sayre, an antique dealer has a "trophy" wife, Julia (Dorothy Revier) who he insists on belittling at every opportunity. He suspects her of having an affair with Dr. Boyer (the unappealing Jameson Thomas) and is having her followed. Oliver Keats (debonair Reginald Denny) is a jaded detective, who is called in by Julia to investigate some shady characters she has noticed hanging around the house. Strangely enough she loves her husband and is worried about him - but when they arrive at the house they find he has been murdered.

Alice (beautiful Claudia Dell) bursts in - she is convinced Julia is guilty - those in the audience familiar with Revier and her roles, probably thought she was too!!! Alice is married to Arthur Pennyward, Sayre's assistant and Sayre was her father. Sayre wasn't all he seemed - he also had a sideline in faking antiques and villainous looking Dyker (Jack Adair) is charged with his murder. Alice still isn't convinced that Julia is innocent and insists the will be read immediately. She is astounded when she realises that she is a joint inheritor with Julia. (She had had a fight with her father that day about her marriage and she thought she was disinherited.) That means she is also under suspicion.

Everyone acts guilty, there are plenty of red herrings - when Julia and Boyer are having supper they phone Sayre but get no response - he is already dead!!! but it looks suspicious for them and it isn't explained. Patricia Farr - "courtesy of Fox Films" - plays Keat's sassy secretary who is kept busy dishing out quips and wisecracks.
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Good Mystery From Poverty Row
GManfred12 January 2011
"The Lady In Scarlet" is a good murder mystery with a good plot and a good star turn by Reginald Denny as the detective/ hero. As expected, it is a bit dated but engrossing nonetheless. It was written better than interpreted by the actors and it suffers from several lapses into amateur acting. Apparently the budget was so tight that second takes were in short supply, and it needed a few.

Enjoyed the interplay between Denny and his secretary, Patricia Farr. As several contributors have noted, it bears a strong resemblance to that of Nick and Nora Charles, only not as witty. Special mention should be made of Jack Adair, who plays a crooked art dealer. I have awarded him the Hand-Painted Mustache Cup for the Worst Performance By A Supporting Actor In A Poverty Row Movie. It has to be seen to be believed - breathtakingly bad by any measure, and ruins every scene he is in.

Good story, and in only 65 minutes. It will keep you guessing right up to the end. It makes you think a bigger studio could have done wonders with material such as this. And hired some better actors.
3 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"Someday I'm gonna have a lot of fun investigating her murder".
classicsoncall7 June 2011
Warning: Spoilers
This is generally an 'in the middle' murder mystery and detective story, but considering it's mid-Thirties release it's got a few things going for it. What sells it is the banter between private detective Oliver Keith (Reginald Denny) and his attractive younger secretary Ella (Patricia Farr). It would have been more believable if the story kept any semblance of a relationship between the two out of it, as Denny was twice as old as his co-star in real life. But for the most part it worked, especially at the end when they smooched it up to allay viewer fears that Denny's character might have been a bit too abusive.

For all intents and purposes, this could have been virtually any movie detective's show of the era - think Charlie Chan, Mister Wong, Bulldog Drummond, or the favorite on this board, Nick Charles. The story plants a number of red herrings surrounding the murder of antique dealer Albert Sayre (John T. Murray), the most obvious being his wife Julia (Dorothy Revier), and business associate Dyker (Jack Adair). The mystery is solved using your typical 'gather all the suspects in one room' approach, as the detective hero successfully conveys the solution of the case by eliminating the suspects one by one.

The bigger mystery once the film is over is how they came up with the title. The term 'Lady in Scarlet' was mentioned early on in reference to a play Albert and Julia Sayre were discussing, she having favored one called 'The Frolic of '32'. However none of the principal female characters had any connection to the title by virtue of their attire. Be that as it may, it made me think of a similarly named Sherlock Holmes flick from a decade later called "The Woman in Green". In either case, who could tell when the picture's in black and white.
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
About average but I did really like Oliver Keith's assistant
MartinHafer11 January 2016
During the 1930s and 40s, the quality as well as cheapo studios made zillions of murder mystery films--so many that it's easy to get them all mixed up in your head. While some of the films were stand-outs, such as the Charlie Chan or Saint films, too many just weren't made very well or offered nothing but retreads of the same old same old characters and stories. In many ways, "The Lady in Scarlett" is yet another dreary mystery films--with the usual get 'em all together in a room and get one of them to incriminate him/herself at the end of the film finale. These were ludicrous but so many of the films followed this same sort of formula. In most ways, this film did too...but fortunately, it did offer two things to set it apart--Reginald Denny's erudite persona and his assistant, who was anything but! In fact, she was a complete smart aleck and kept me interested in an otherwise passable film. Well worth seeing just because of her!
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
All the usual suspects are there.....
mark.waltz6 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Even though this is a predictable murder mystery with the victim (John T. Murray) seemingly deserving of becoming the victim, there's a lot to enjoy in this "B" programmer where the dialog makes an otherwise predictable storyline more enjoyable. The story is set up with the extremely jealous Murray making it clear to his wife (Dorothy Revier) that he is keeping a close watch on her, being totally aware of her infidelities, while the obviously embittered daughter (Claudia Dell) from his first marriage makes it clear that Revier is the prime suspect. There's also assorted business partners or rivals and Dell's fiancée (whom Murray disapproved of), all questioned by playboy private detective Reginald Denny and his wise-cracking "Girl Friday" (Patricia Farr).

It's Farr's character who gets the bulk of the great dialog here, saying such great hard-boiled lines as "He can't work overtime. It interferes with his drinking". When she finds her employer/lover on the phone, she makes her own suspicions known by saying, "I know you didn't go into that booth to fix your girdle!". The wife/lover, daughter/fiancée characters are not sterotypically one-dimensional, giving reasonable motives for each of them as to why they might want to see Murray killed off. Not bad for a bottom of the barrel second feature where the camera moved in obviously very close onto the set to hide how cramped and small it really was.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews