LADIES ACCUSED OF MURDER
Exile Express was the last film produced by Grand National Pictures, and a worthy farewell it was. Anna Sten, former Sam Goldwyn protegee and the wife of Exile Express producer Eugene Frenke, stars as Nadine Nikolas, a young European girl whose chances of becoming an American citizen are scotched when she is implicated in a murder.
About to be deported, Nadine is rescued by reporter Steve Reynolds (Alan Marshall), who suspects that the killing was engineered by a gang of international spies. One delightful scene permits the haughty Ms. Sten to "let herself go" by dancing an energetic jitterbug. Directed by Universal contractee Otis Garrett, Exile Express is a satisfying blend of comedy, romance, and edge-of-the-seat suspense.
LADY OF BURLESQUE
Barbara Stanwyck shines in her second portrayal of a showgirl in less than two years (the first was in Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire in 1941). In Lady of Burlesque -- which, at times, has a Hawksian edge to the dialogue -- she portrays Dixie Daisy, a striptease artist at a Broadway theater in New York at the end of the 1930s.
In the course of fending off the unwanted advances of brash comic Biff Brannigan (Michael O'Shea), with whom she is teamed in several numbers, and staying clear of the dressing room feuds of her fellow dancers -- including a very nasty dispute between Dolly Baxter (Gloria Dickson) and Lolita La Verne (Victoria Faust) -- she finds herself up to her neck in trouble when one of the women is found strangled with her own G-string.
The police don't know what to make of it, especially as the victim was already dying of a fatal dose of poison, which means that there are two murderers somewhere in the theater; and when a second woman turns up strangled inside a prop that Dixie was supposed to be hiding in onstage, she looks like a good suspect. Between the backstage comedy-drama, and the songs, dances, and on-stage comic routines, with the police breathing down both their necks at different times, Dixie and Biff manage to solve the mystery and find each other in this briskly paced, funny, yet amazingly gritty comedy-thriller.