TRIPLE FUN MYSTERIES
A SHOT IN THE DARK
A popular title, a mystery death and college hi-jinks are the ingredients in this pleasant little whodunit from lower-rung company Chesterfield. Charles Starrett stars as Ken Harris, a college football hero whose roommate, Byron Coates (James Bush), is found dead outside their dormitory, a murder camouflaged as a suicide. Suspicion briefly centers on Byron's look-alike half-brother (also Bush) but he, too, is found slain by the mystery killer.
Assisted by Byron's sister Jean (Marian Shilling), an at times confounded Ken manages to get to the bottom of the alarming goings-on and unmask the murderer, whose identity will come as little surprise to fans of low-budget 1930s crime thrillers.
Happily, breezy acting from future western star Charles Starrett coupled with the usual solid presence of veteran vampire slayer Edward Van Sloan and silent screen actor Robert Warwick make A Shot in the Dark fun viewing even for today's more jaded audience.
Comparatively little known, this Monogram thriller is a remarkably concise adaptation of Wilkie Collins' lengthy 1868 mystery novel The Moonstone. On a dark and stormy night, Franklin Blake (David Manners) and his Hindu manservant Yandoo (John Davidson) arrive at Vandier Manor to deliver the Moonstone, a priceless gem stolen from an Indian temple way back in 1799. The recipient is Anne Verinder (Phyllis Barry), who despite being warned to lock the Moonstone away in the family vault, chooses to place it under her pillow.
Sure enough, the gem is stolen during the night, right from under the sleeping Anne. Scotland Yard inspector Cliff (Charles Irwin) has quite an array of suspects to choose from, the most obvious of whom is usurious Septimus Lucker (Gustav von Seyfertitz). One murder and one assault later, Inspector Cliff reveals the genuine culprit -- who, in time-honored tradition, is the least likely and most cooperative of the suspects. The Moonstone is a prime example of what can be accomplished on a small budget with a little extra time and care
SLIGHTLY HONORABLE - Pat O’Brien, Edward Arnold, Broderick Crawford, Eve Arden
The successful producer-director combination of Walter Wanger and Tay Garnett served up another winner with Slightly Honorable. Adapted from F. G. Presnell's novel Send Another Coffin, the story concerns the efforts made by corrupt politician Cushing (Edward Arnold) to frame honest attorney John Webb (Pat O'Brien) for the murder of Alma Brehmer (Claire Dodd).
In concert with his diligent and apparently slow-witted assistant Rus Sampson (Broderick Crawford), Webb hopes to squelch Cushing's plan by locating the real murderer-who turns out to be a lot closer to Webb than he'd ever imagined. Ruth Terry has one of her best screen roles as a birdbrained nightclub hoofer who helps Webb clear himself.