In The Fleet
(1935/MGM)/Murder In The
(1963/Allied Artists/Warner Archive DVDs)
C/C/C+ Sound: C Extras: C-/C-/D Films: C+/C/C+
All three DVDs are now only available from Warner Bros. through their
Warner Archive series and can be ordered from the link below.
mystery comedies all have some unintentional laughs...
In The Fleet
(1935) is one is a mix of comedy, some mystery and a little
patriotism as spies try to sabotage a new electronics system on a
U.S. Navy ship with a young Robert Taylor as the soldier who is
supposed to make sure all works out. However, you never know who the
spy is and who might open fire with a hidden handgun at any moment.
Jean Parker is the female lead, while Ted Healy and Nat Pendleton
show up as the comic relief. There are some interesting moments
here, but there is too much comedy and not enough of any kind of
puzzle, yet this is no action film. This is more noticeable when the
narrative is interrupted by a few somber pro-military moments that
are expected in any such production and are just fine.
even at a short 69 minutes, this just drags too much and tends to be
very uneven. Mystery fans will be a bit disappointed, but MGM was
trying. Jean Hersholt also stars.
the titles may be similar and happen to have the same producer in
Lucien Hubbard, but Harry Beaumont's Murder
In The Private Car
(1934) was made by MGM the year before, but is not part of any
series, though the underrated Una Merkel does how up in both. She is
the lead, but the male lead is the somewhat unconnected Charles
Ruggles as a 'sort-of' detective as switchboard operator (Mary
Carlisle) finds out she's the lost lost daughter of a very wealthy
man and takes a rain (and her co-worker with her) to meet up with
'dad' and join the upper crust.
she is expected and the train has all kinds of dark surprises for her
and company, making this much more of a suspenseful mystery film, if
not a great one. This time, unnecessary racist 'comedy' breaks the
suspense and at the worst times in the worst ways. I give the makers
credit for a fun final reel, but more could have been made of the 63
minutes they had. Serious mystery film fans will still want to see
we have Burt Topper's The
(1963), Allied Artists attempt to cash in on the blockbuster success
of Hitchcock's Psycho
(1960) which they imitated in several ways, including the poster art
(on the cover of the DVD next to this review, where they imitate
Janet Leigh's underwear-wearing shot and add more women in just as
little clothing), landing the great Victor Buono (hot off of Whatever
Happened To Baby Jane?
(1962, reviewed on Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) as the title
killer and medical man with a mother complex who kills young, pretty
is done semi-comically like a William Castle film, but we still get a
couple of creepy moments and a few unintentional laughs, yet Buono
steals most of his scenes and future Grandma Walton (from TV's The
plays his sick-in-the-hospital mother. The funny patches are not
enough to save it from flat moments or bad ideas about psychology,
but it is still worth a look for the novelty it is. So many rip-offs
of the Hitchcock classic hit screens at this time (Castle's Homicidal
(1961) was the best of the semi-comic imitators) and they were also
all trying to be Clouzot's Diabolique
(1955, see the Criterion Blu-ray elsewhere on this site), so it is
cheesy and ambitious at the same time. Thus, it is worth a look.
1.33 X 1 black and white image on both Murder
films might be shot on the high quality film stock MGM was known for,
but the prints here shows their age and more than a little damage,
even when some shots have nice clarity for their age, while, the
anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Strangler
is 30 years younger than those films, comes with a newer, cleaner
print and is easily the visual champ here. I like the cinematography
on all three films, all issued in theatrical monophonic sound, but
the lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono on all three are weak, somewhat
compressed and could all use some work. They seem to be recorded
well enough, but they more than show their age, so be careful of
volume switching and high volume playback.
only extras are Original Theatrical Trailers on the two Murder
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