Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Underrated Detective/Mysteries - KC ""

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Underrated Detective/Mysteries - KC

KC runs aclassicmovieblog.com and can be found on social media in these places:

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1. Miss Pinkerton (1932)
Joan Blondell is a nurse in search of excitement when she is recruited to go undercover to help solve a mysterious death witha detective, played by George Brent. It's a modestly entertaining mystery, but Blondell lights up every corner of the old dark mansion where she sneaks around looking for clues. She's got this sassy walk she uses as a front whenever she's scared, but those big eyes start rolling back and forth like crazy when she realizes something isn't right. It's almost like she's animated. It would have been great to see her in more detective flicks, she was perfect for them. This is also the first time I saw Brent as having a purpose beyond putting on Bette Davis' coat. He's very sexy and lively with Blondell, they're a good team, but he also holds his own.

2. Guilty Hands (1931)
I love how Kay Francis managed to wring so much variety out of her wealthy clotheshorse screen persona. She may have oftenlooked the same, but her characters were widely varied, from decent society girls to wicked temptresses, and a lot of interesting territory in between. Here she plays good Kay, a guest at a house party where her estranged lover apparently commits suicide. She doesn't buy it, and fellow guest Lionel Barrymore arouses her suspicion. There are a couple of great, silent scenes where Francis digs around looking for clues. The clever methods she uses to find answers, and her delight when she finds them, are mesmerizing. You marvel at her brilliance.

3. I Love Trouble (1948)
This is the most I have ever liked Franchot Tone. It's the only time he's ever seemed truly relaxed to me onscreen. As detective Stuart Bailey, he meets increasingly bizarre characters, and he seems to find it all incredibly amusing. This is not your typical beat-up gumshoe. He's good at his job because he doesn't let it, or the nuts around him, get him down.

4. Lady on a Train (1945)
I don't know that this Deanna Durbin mystery/musical/romance/noir/comedy is underrated, but it seems to fall between the cracks sometimes because it touches on so many genres. It's an interesting oddity, because the peril and menace fit so well with Durbin's songs and comedy bits. The movie runs along smoothly, never seeming as though it is shifting gears. A perfect example of its nutty juxtapositions is in the scene where Durbin sings Silent Night to her father on the phone, while a man who has broken into her suite to rob her hovers outside the door listening. There's danger, but you feel like her purity will flush out the corruption that surrounds her, and that's more exciting than you might think.

5. Keeper of the Flame (1942)
There's an undercurrent of evil to this Hepburn and Tracy drama that keeps me on edge every time I see it. Tracy plays a journalist, a sort of unofficial detective, who senses something dark in the past of a politician who has recently died in an accident. As the man's widow, Hepburn struggles to hide the truth and maintain her husband's legacy. This has got to be the darkest it's ever gotten between Hepburn and Tracy on the screen. He doesn't miss a detail and she is terrified by his determination, but also drawn to him. The tension between them is deliciously electric

1 comment:

Laura said...

Love your list, KC! LADY ON A TRAIN is one of my very favorite Durbins, and I've been wanting to catch I LOVE TROUBLE (early Roy Huggins!). You've definitely encouraged me to do that.

Best wishes,
Laura